Mint is refreshing herb for pasta

DINNER TONIGHT

June 29, 2005|By Renee Enna | Renee Enna,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Ask any gardener: Mint wants to take over the world. It grows profusely, pushing aside its neighbors. Sadly, all that enthusiasm gets ignored in the kitchen.

Basil and oregano are the herbs of choice for so many Italian dishes, but mint is a worthy ingredient, with just as much right to reign in a tomato sauce. So here we give it its due.

Tip

The fresh mint sold in supermarket produce sections is usually spearmint; any mint - peppermint or, for that matter, basil - will work just as well.

Menu

Tossed salad with oil and vinegar

Italian bread with garlic butter

Mint rules! pasta

Peppermint ice cream

Mint Rules! Pasta

Preparation time: 18 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

8 ounces medium pasta shells

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 yellow or green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon each: dried Italian herbs, dried fennel seed

2 cans (16 ounces each) diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

12 to 15 sprigs fresh mint, coarsely chopped

grated parmesan cheese

Heat salted water to a boil in a stockpot; cook pasta shells until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add dried herbs and fennel seed; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the mint; simmer 2 minutes. Spoon over pasta; top with parmesan.

Per serving: 351 calories, 8 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 58 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 1,110 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber

- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper

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