If you prefer, you can always substitute a brown rice, whole-wheat, or whole-grain pasta for the fiber-enriched variety. Devin gets a lot of letters and e-mails from home cooks around the country saying they are able to make her recipes for the whole family even though their spouses and children won’t generally eat healthy food, because her recipes actually taste fattening. To keep with that tradition, she opts for the fiber-enriched pasta since it adds needed fiber to our diets while still tasting more like traditional pasta.

Penne and Asparagus with Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

1 (141/2-ounce) box of fi ber-enriched penne pasta (Try Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne Rigate)
1 pound trimmed asparagus, cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces.
2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (Devin used Precious, which is the same as Sorrento in various parts of the country)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese (Look for it in a plastic canister or jar, not in the refrigerated section)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste, optional

Preparation

Cook the pasta according to package direc¬tions, omitting any oil or butter. Two to four minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus to the water (2 minutes for thin spears, 4 minutes for thick). Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a small bowl. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ricotta, and olive oil to a large serving bowl. As soon as the pasta is drained, mix in 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Immediately add the pasta and asparagus and gently toss until the pasta and asparagus are coated with the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss again. If the mixture seems too dry, add more reserved pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until no longer dry. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the pasta and sprinkle with the red pepper fl akes, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Each (about 2-cup) serving has: 318 calories, 15 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber, 183 mg sodium

*Recipe taken from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo Credit: Theresa Raffetto.*