Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Seashell Pasta with Pork and Peas

Summer Seashell Pasta with Pork and Peas

I know that I haven't posted for a while.  We got back from Chile and then were out of town again; and then I had browser issues which kept me from updating.  But it appears all is well now.

I often get asked for quick and easy recipes for the summer months.  And what's quicker and easier than a one dish pasta meal?  This dish has a lot of flavor on it's own, so cheese for passing at the table is optional.  

I used thin cut pork chops instead of ham to make the dish a little healthier.  The trick to keeping them tender is to cook them on the one side on top of the stove, turn on the hot pan, and then just let them finish in a 250 degree oven using the method described below. Slicing them right away after just a short resting time will stop the cooking process and keep them juicy.

BTW -  I am no longer counting points; but you can find a variety of recipes from earlier in the year under the points section.  I actually am down a size now - so I've decided to not follow any particular "diet" but to try to learn to eat healthier on my own and so far, so good!   

Here we go:

Serves 2.


1/2 lb. thin pork chops (4 chops)
2 tbs. Italian dressing (your favorite brand)
1 tsp. grill seasoning for chicken
2 tbs. lemon juice, divided
1/2 lb. medium seashell pasta, cooked per package directions and drained and cooking water reserved
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
4 ounces Mascarpone cheese 
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt free Italian seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
Fresh torn mint
Parmesan cheese for passing at the table (optional) 
Other:  Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Marinate the pork chops in the Italian dressing for at least twenty minutes; longer if you have the time.   

Remove from marinade (discard remainder) - sprinkle the pork chops with the grill seasoning on both sides and place them into a hot skillet coated with cooking spray.  

Cook on one side for about two minutes and turn.  Add half of the lemon juice to the pan with the pork chops.Place the chops into a 250 degree oven.  

Turn the oven heat off, and let the chops sit in the oven for about four minutes until cooked through.  Pork chops should be nicely browned on both sides using this method. 

Let the chops rest for a couple of minutes and then slice and keep warm.

While the chops are cooking, cook pasta per package directions, drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.  Note:  You can add in the peas during the last 30 seconds or so of cooking to warm them through.  

Add the drained pasta and peas to a big pasta bowl.  

Mix the Mascarpone with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and then add it to the bowl with the hot pasta.   Add in a little of the reserved hot cooking water and the soy sauce.  Mix until combined and then stir in the sliced pork chops.  

Top with fresh mint.  

Pass cheese at the table and enjoy!

Variations:  Add in slivered cooked red onion or saute a little garlic with the pork chops for a more savory dish.  

You can also substitute chicken or a more traditional pre-cooked ham chunks.