Monday, October 17, 2016

Meatless Monday: Water Saving Pasta

We are in a drought in Connecticut. Our fall palette is somewhat muted this year with russet tones replacing our normally brilliant reds. Our rainfall deficit is why state residents are being asked to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 10%. The New Haven Regional Water Authority has a number of water saving tips on its website. We don’t have a water shortage at the moment, but we need to preserve what we have in our reservoirs.

Over the past year or two in our house we have switched to low flow toilets, and we recently replaced a sink with leaky faucets. We have long had water efficient shower heads and aerators on our sinks. So we are down to the small things, mainly being more mindful of water use whenever we turn on the tap. This brings me to my Meatless Monday adventure of the day, my experiment with Barilla Pronto Pasta. Pronto promises: One Pan. No Boil. No Drain. Dinner for 6 in under 15 minutes!

I have long been a fan of Barilla in general and Barilla’s no-boil lasagna in particular because it allows me to make lasagna quickly on demand. So when I noticed Pronto products on the shelf I decided to give them a try. The Italian-American woman on checkout made a snide comment when she put the Pronto in my bag, but I brought it home and did a little research.

I checked out the Barilla website and found a YouTube video.

I decided Friday night was the night and I followed the directions on the box:
  • Pour the whole box of pasta into a large skillet,
  • Pour three cups of cold water into the pan, making sure that the water covers the pasta.
  • Turn the burner to high, stirring regularly, until most of the water is absorbed.
  • Remove from heat and add your favorite ingredients.

It worked! Less water, and none down the drain. Fewer dishes.

Here are before and after images:

Starting Out


I used cold water from the fridge and I couldn’t bring myself to turn the flame really high,  so it took 12 minutes instead of 10 for my pasta to cook. You will know when you stir it if your pasta is done.

I saved half the pasta for another day and topped the rest with a small batch of fresh pesto. It was delicious, and it had the taste and texture of the pasta I normally used.

I am not sure how they do it; the ingredients and nutrition info for Pronto Penne are the same as in the traditional variety. I wonder if you could do the same with the whole grain version, perhaps with a little more water, and a little more time? Could you use a little less gas by not turning the burner quite so high? I will have to do some experimenting.

What I do know is that Pronto made life a little easier on the night I tried it, and it did take less water.

Keep in mind that blue box pasta is not a nutritious meal in and of itself, but if your day has slipped away and you have the perfect something to serve on top, this product is really great.

FYI If you are used to microwaving your leftovers, be warned that Pronto tends to stick together when reheated. It will be fine once you add your sauce and give it a good stir.

Happy Monday!

I often blog on food, food issues, or topics related to growing things on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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