If you dine out and order a pasta dish, chances are you're getting a huge serving.
In the just-released 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pasta ranks eighth among the top 25 sources of calories for Americans age 19 and older.
I checked the nutritional information for a dish of spaghetti and Italian sausage on the Web site of a popular Italian eatery and wasn't that surprised.
An entree serving, which of course is a generous serving, has 1,270 calories and a whopping 67 grams of fat -- more than a day's worth of fat -- and 24 grams saturated fat. And its sodium content is a staggering 3,090 milligrams -- more than a day's worth under the current guidelines.
This recipe originally called for heavy whipping cream and regular Italian sausage. I used Italian turkey sausage. Instead of heavy whipping cream, I used light cream, but you could also use fat-free half-and-half.
Spaghettini With Sweet Italian Sausage and Spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian pork or turkey sausage (link variety), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled, chopped
Two 14-ounces cans fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
8 to 12 ounces spaghettini or angel hair pasta (whole wheat or regular)
10-ounce bag fresh spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half or light cream
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage slices and cook 5 minutes, stirring, until they brown.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes or until it is lightly browned.
Add the chicken broth and water; cover and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir the spinach into the pasta, cover and cook 3-5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the spinach is wilted. Stir in the cream and cook 2-3 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and it coats the pasta.
Season with crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into individual bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley. Serves 4.
Analysis based on Italian sausage made with pork: 348 calories (34 percent from fat), 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat), 33 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 796 milligrams sodium, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams fiber.