Whole Wheat Rotini with Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Italian Sausage

Pasta is my favorite food of all time, and for a while now I have been straying from it because I've been trying to watch my carbs. I decided I needed to return to my roots this week and make a hearty pasta dish. To help make the pasta more healthy, I chose whole wheat instead of using the refined semolina variety of pasta. Another trick I used to keep the carbohydrates in check was to add a variety of chunky vegetables to add bulk, as well and protein-rich Italian sausages. You won't miss the refined pasta with such a variety of flavors! Sweet and smokey roasted red bell peppers balance the tang of artichoke hearts in this pasta. The Italian sausage lends plenty of flavor from the herbs and spices it contains. Rotini, which is one of the most fun pasta shapes, clings onto every ingredient. The dish is finished with salty Parmesan and licorice-y basil. This is heaven in a bowl for me!

Whole Wheat Rotini with Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Italian Sausage

1/2 lb whole wheat rotini pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 15 oz can water-packed quartered artichoke hearts
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, drained and julienned
2 vegetarian Italian sausage links, sliced or chopped or 2 turkey sausages, casings removed
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar, optional
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
*pasta cooking water
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1. Bring the water for the pasta to boil (be sure to salt the water).
2. While the water is coming towards a boil, heat a large skillet between medium and medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute.
3. When the onion is translucent, add the artichokes and bell peppers, season with a little more salt and pepper, and warm them through. Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing the vegetables to the side and add the sausage and allow it to heat through and brown.
4. Add the tomatoes to the sausage and vegetables and stir to combine. Fold in the basil. Let the sauce simmer as the pasta finishes cooking. If the tomatoes are a little too tart, add some sugar to balance the flavors.
5. Reserve some pasta water before draining the pasta (a cup of water is enough). Add the pasta to the sauce and add enough water to allow the pasta to be coated with sauce. Sprinkle in the cheese and heat until it is melted. Serve immediately, with a little extra Parmesan and a sprinkling of basil.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 411
Fat: 9.6 g
Saturated fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 7 mg
Sodium: 412 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 14.6 g
Protein: 28.1 g

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