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Hot pasta, cool sauce

PAM ANDERSON | 9/24/2009, 10:55 a.m.

USA WEEKEND Food

What's for dinner on a hot night in August? Something easy and fast. One of these ultra-simple pastas will do the trick (go online for my tuna-artichoke and shrimp-pea variations). All you need is a pot to boil the pasta and a bowl for the no-cook sauce.

Start by stocking up on a few staples -- pasta, chicken broth, tuna and artichoke hearts, frozen shrimp and peas, pesto and cheeses. This stock-up strategy means fewer trips to the store and a head start at getting dinner on the table without a lot of fuss.INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces spaghetti or bite-sized pasta, such as fusilli, radiatore, rotini, gemelli, farfalle or shells

12 ounces (about 3 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large, and lightly salted

1/4 cup pesto

6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pasta; cook, partially covered, until just tender, using suggested cooking times as a guide and stirring frequently at first to keep pasta from sticking. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and return to pot. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss tomato pieces with pesto. Add tomato mixture and cheese to hot pasta; toss, adding enough cooking liquid to moisten the dish. Serve.

SERVES: 4PER SERVING: 499 calories, 23g protein, 70g carbohydrates, 14g fat (5.3g saturated), 27mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 457mg sodiumINGREDIENTS:

12 ounces bite-sized pasta, such as fusilli, radiatore, rotini, gemelli, farfalle or shells

2 6- to 7-ounce cans white albacore tuna, drained

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for passing

DIRECTIONS:Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pasta; cook, partially covered, until just tender, using suggested cooking times as a guide and stirring frequently at first to keep pasta from sticking. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and return to pot. Add tuna, artichoke hearts, pesto and cheese; toss, adding enough cooking liquid to moisten the dish. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

SERVES: 4

PER SERVING: 583 calories, 36g protein, 71g carbohydrates, 16g fat (3.2g saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 940mg sodiumINGREDIENTS:

12 ounces bite-sized pasta, such as fusilli, radiatore, rotini, gemelli, farfalle or shells

12 ounces shrimp, halved lengthwise

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup chicken broth

3 large garlic cloves, minced

6 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened

1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbs. snipped fresh chives or green onions (green part only)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for passing

DIRECTIONS:Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pasta; cook, partially covered, until just tender, using suggested cooking times as a guide and stirring frequently at first to keep pasta from sticking. Add shrimp and peas; cover and cook until shrimp are just cooked and peas are bright green, about 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta, shrimp and pea mixture and return to pot.

Meanwhile, put the chicken broth and garlic in a Pyrex measuring cup and microwave on high for 1 minute. Whisk mixture into cream cheese, along with lemon zest and chives. Add to hot pasta and toss, adding enough of the cooking liquid to moisten the dish and sprinkling with Parmesan. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

SERVES: 4PER SERVING: 540 calories, 33g protein, 70g carbohydrates, 13g fat (7.4g saturated), 161mg cholesterol, 4g fiber, 496mg sodium