A Pasta Perfect For Dancers

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - January 23, 2008
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John Parkinson is a busy guy! Just ask anyone at Ballet Hawaii who’s seen him in action. He took over for longtime executive director Steve Knox to helm Nutcracker, which audiences loved thanks to artistic director Pamela Taylor-Tongg’s magical staging.

Now John is hard at work getting ready for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a wonderful company of all-male ballet dancers who bring not only talent en point but also comedic and entertaining flair to everything they do.

“Anyone who’s seen the signature Swan Lake before can attest to the across-the-board appeal of Trockadero,” says John, “and Ballet Hawaii looks forward to another sold-out engagement Feb. 16 and 17 at the Hawaii Theatre.”

Here’s a recipe dedicated to John, Pam, Ballet Hawaii president Susie Schull, all the fabulous students at Ballet Hawaii, and the Trockadero members who will be coming for a statewide tour.

Dancers are athletes of the highest caliber, as we all know, so this recipe is healthy as well as delicious.

Capers are sold pickled in vinegar, wine or brine. The smaller capers, which are more expensive, have a more delicate flavor and aroma.

The unique sharp, piquant flavor of capers adds an interesting touch to mayonnaise, salads and sauces such as remoulade. They are an essential ingredient in steak tartare. Capers can be used in sauces, mustard, sandwiches, pizza, rice dishes, pastas, meat, poultry and especially fish and seafood. Add capers at the end of the cooking process for optimum flavor.

Southern European cooks use the combination of capers, olives and onion; tapenade is a combination of olive puree seasoned with capers and anchovies.

Capers are said to improve the appetite and digestion, and to be diuretic.

Pickled capers can be kept indefinitely, but once opened they should be refrigerated.

Try this easy dish when time is short. The aroma is tantalizing!

A tossed green salad is a good accompaniment to complete the meal.

For dessert, try one of my favorites: Peel and section naval oranges. Slice pitted dates, and toss together with oranges. Drizzle with a bit of honey, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of chopped almonds.


* 1 12-ounce package spaghetti

* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

* 4 cloves garlic, finely minced

* 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped

* 1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce

* 1/3 cup chopped black pitted olives (rinse thoroughly before chopping; to reduce sodium, use less)

* salt and pepper, to taste

* 3 tablespoons capers

* grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions; drain and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent and slightly browned. Add tomatoes and stir until mixed, then add tomato sauce and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add olives and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Season with pepper and salt to taste, add capers and cook for about 5 more minutes or until all ingredients are heated through.

To serve, divide pasta on plates and spoon sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes four servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 400

Fat: 7 grams (without cheese added)

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams (without cheese added)

Sodium: 400 (depending on how much salt is added)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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