Pasta ideas for an easily digestible diet
March 17, 2020 12:21 AM   Subscribe

I will soon be caring for a surgery convalescent. She loves pasta, but the new temporary diet restrictions cramp my style - no onions or garlic, no frying, low fat (dairy is ok), nothing that can cause gas (brassicas, pulses), no fatty meats or smoked fish, no citrus. Probably nothing too spicy either. Um. Help?

I'm also stocked up with rice (All The Congee, other ideas welcome), a decent amount of chicken, some turkey, eggs, lots of vegetables and dairy etc. The patient is raised on Polish/Russian cooking, but adventurous - she has favourite dishes in most European and Asian cuisines, less experience with other regions. I have access to a very decent European supermarket, but I'm trying to meal plan before she escapes the hospital to minimise shopping trips.
posted by I claim sanctuary to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Grilled & sliced mushrooms on fusilli (or whatever) with a pesto sauce is quite nice. Especially if the restrictions allow for some parmesan. And you could always pick up a low-fat pesto. And go heavy on the mushrooms!

(Usually I fry the mushrooms and add a dash of cayenne, but this version's fine too)
posted by Lorc at 1:14 AM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

And what about seafood? Prawns or mussels dry-fried with halved cherry tomatoes, capers and sliced olives, seasoned with plenty of basil and served on spaghetti/linguine/tagliatelle. I mean, it would benefit from onions and a splash of lemon, but should be fine without.
(I assume that no frying means "no oil" and hope that dry-frying might be OK)
posted by Lorc at 1:20 AM on March 17, 2020

I like halving cherry tomatoes, adding torn up basil and oregano if I have any, lots of salt and pepper, and tossing it with some freshly cooked pasta.

I also add olive oil, garlic and parmesan if I have any, but sometimes I haven't and it's still good. I think mushrooms might work with it too.
posted by lollusc at 2:38 AM on March 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Spaghetti tossed with olive oil and Parmesan. Some grilled chicken might be nice for protein. Some halves and roasted cherry tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes for color and tang. Olives if they like that.

Pesto variations - with basil, rocket, roast bell pepper. Just need to leave out the garlic, but the same methodology. Toss with different pasta shapes, serve warm or cold with more chopped veggies, fresh or roasted.

A simple satay sauce with peanut butter and a bit of chicken stock to thin it and a teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce. Mix through some pasta and steamed veggies (we usually use broccoli, carrots, green beans).

Puttanesca without garlic (anchovies, olive oil, capers, canned chopped tomatoes).

Paprika adds some nice flavour to tomato sauce. Maybe a sauce like this for baked pasta with some grilled chicken in it? Maybe sprinkle a bit of mozzarella at the top at the end.

A simple marinara sauce sans garlic but with added spices (Paprika) or herbs (Italian seasoning) tossed through pasta. Serve on the side of panko crusted chicken breast baked in the oven. Melt some mozzarella over the chicken towards the end.

A sauce made of: roasted eggplant, roasted tomatoes, toasted pine nuts all blended together. Serve as a vegetarian dish or can be mixed with ground meat - beef or lamb. Season with oregano, pepper and salt to taste.
posted by like_neon at 3:10 AM on March 17, 2020

With rice - some variation of this baked salmon and pineapple rice that I love might work for you? Can leave out/adjust spicy elements, use low fat sour cream, etc.

I love the pineapple and salmon combo. But could do something similar with roasted bell pepper (canned or made at home) and grilled chicken.
posted by like_neon at 3:17 AM on March 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: That is my gram's diet. She had stomach ulcers for years, back in the day when there were no good treatments.
Clear soup with dumplings or pasta. I've made a consommé with mixed meats and red beets, as a sort of luxury borscht. It's cooked with beets, but before serving I add freshly juiced beets for a beautiful color. This is served with freshly made little dumplings and meatballs. But I also love a plain chicken broth with pasta.
Pasta with mushrooms. Normally you'd use garlic and perhaps onions for this, but it is actually delicious just plain, cooked in butter with salt and pepper. Add a splash of cream if you like, before stirring pasta and mushrooms well with some pasta water.
A chicken suprême with a sauce velouté - many people like buttered tagliatelle as a side with this. I prefer rice, and I like a lot of tarragon in the sauce.
A filet of salmon or any other fish with hollandaise sauce. This was my grandmother's favorite dish for me to cook. There's lemon in the sauce though. Check if it's completely impossible. If it is, another delicious fish thing is to cook in "en papilotte", in a paper package with herbs and a tiny bit of butter in the oven.
Sometimes I make pasta with peas in cream or in a bit of broth because peas are such a good freezer staple. If Parmesan cheese is an option, it will be delicious.
Spanakopita -- you really don't need the onion and garlic in this. I rarely use them. I also make saag paneer without alliums, one of my friends is Jain and she made it without and I actually prefer it that way.
Turkey breast in a Marsala sauce. This is like chicken Marsala but much lighter, and you cook off all the alcohol. I would serve this with steamed vegetables.
Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti With Black Pepper and Pecorino Romano)
Oven roasted root vegetables are always delicious. Perhaps serve with a yogurt based sauce with a lot of herbs. You can use this as a side or as a main, with bread and a salad on the side.
Another ting I like is steamed vegetables with a vinaigrette. I use only a tiny bit of vinegar, and you could go entirely without if necessary.
My grandmother wasn't a big fan of raw salads, she felt fresh greens were irritating. But she would eat a very simple lettuce and cucumber salad with a dressing made with cream instead of oil (otherwise all the same method).
Very simple pizzas. A margherita with just tomato, cheese and basil. Or potato, with salt and herbs. Or with roasted vegetables and cheese.
Aubergine stuffed with rice, ground beef or turkey, tomato and herbs, baked in the oven. A bit of paprika and cumin for heat, but not too much.
When I was young, I often made a dish with frozen fish and spinach. I'd wilt the spinach in a pan, then when it was almost dried out, add butter, fresh cream and a bit of salt and pepper and mace, then whatever thawed fish or shellfish I had. Put a lid on and steam till the fish is ready. If I didn't have cream, I'd use cream cheese and a bit of water.
Spaghetti with mussels won't be quite the same without garlic, but it won't be bad, either. Maybe use a bit of fennel and celery instead, if that is OK.
Speaking of celery, a classic celeriac remoulade is a great side dish. You can omit the lemon juice. It may seem fatty with both mayo and creme fraiche, but in the final count the celeriac more than weighs up the fats when you look at the portion-content.
posted by mumimor at 3:57 AM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

My first thought was dumplings, e.g. perogies, which should be comfort food for anyone from eastern Europe.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:21 AM on March 17, 2020

Best answer: We have a fave that might work that's quick and tasty, very easy, and mostly no-cook (except boiling the pasta): A can or two of tuna tossed with cooked linguine or spaghetti plus some chopped feta cheese, sliced black olives, and roughly chopped fresh tomato (plum or cherry tomatoes when the regular ones are not in season). You could also throw in some capers if she's a fan. We actually do add some sauteed onion, but it's easily left out.

This is much yummier than it probably sounds! (Well, we never have any ungobbled remains at least :).
posted by taz at 5:46 AM on March 17, 2020

Depending on how rigorous the ‘no citrus’ rule is or why (are other acids ok?) be careful with things like (sun dried) tomatoes, peppers and capers etc. Some of these tasty morsels are quite acidic in their own right. In addition, they often contain ascorbic acid/vinegars if they come in a jar.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:23 AM on March 17, 2020

Since I'm locked down here, I thought I might as well look in my Silver Spoon for ideas for you:
Cannelloni with Bechamel sauce (4 servings)
25 g butter
300 g spinach
200 g roasted veal, chopped
1 slice of cooked ham
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 lightly beaten egg
fresh pasta (the recipe calls for making it from scratch but I would by fresh pasta)
bechamel sauce (I make this from scratch with low-fat milk to make the dish lighter, from 1/2 liter of milk)
Heat the oven to 200 celcius, and butter an ovenproof dish. Steam the spinach for 5 mins. Let it dry up well in a colander, chop it well, and mix with the meats, the cheese and the egg, season to taste.
Roll out your pasta into thin rectangular sheets and cook them for a few minutes in boiling water, and let them dry a bit on a clean towel.
Now place some bechamel and some meat sauce in each rectangle and roll it up. Put the rolls in one layer in the dish and cover with the rest of the bechamel. Put the rest of the butter on top in little pieces. Bake for 20 minutes. Let rest before serving.

Pasta with butter and sage
This is great with stuffed pasta, like ravioli, too.
Heat the butter gently, you don't want it to blacken. Fry fresh sage leaves in the butter till they are crisp and colored, but again, not at all brown or black. Let them dry on a paper towel while you mix butter, grated hard cheese to taste, pasta water and cooked pasta vigorously. Add in the sage leaves and serve with extra cheese to taste.

Fusilli salad (4 servings)
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
16 fresh basil leaves
olive oil
1 tin of tuna in oil, drained and separated into flakes
12 black olives
120 g mozzarella
50 g (dry weight) fusili

Put your tomatoes and basil in a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and oil to taste. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, drain. Put the pasta in the bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well.
This is surprisingly delicious and was my kids' favorite packaged lunch for years. The trick is to mix while the pasta is still warm, because that brings out the flavors. There is actually garlic in the recipe in the book, but that didn't work for school lunch, and it was very good without.

I also remembered that you can make a Spanish tortilla without the onions. Recipes call for an obscene amount of oil, but remember that most of that oil can be poured off the pan and reused afterwards. You don't actually eat it. It was another dish my grandmother often asked me to make.

And there is this salad (1 serving)
1 duck breast (for optimal results, dry cure it: salt it, and leave it uncovered in the fridge for several hours, overnight is good)
1 heart of lettuce, washed and dry
1 small apple, halved and sliced
4-5 walnuts, roughly chopped
olive oil
balsamico vinegar
salt to taste
Cook the duck breast to taste on a pan, skin side first, save the cooking fat. Let it rest. Arrange the lettuce leaves, with the apple on top. Slice up the duck breast and put it on top of the salad, sprinkle with the walnuts, then a little bit of oil and juices from the pan, then a sizzle of the vinegar. You may not need extra salt.

For all pasta dishes you can use whole wheat pasta for more nutrition and fiber.
posted by mumimor at 6:25 AM on March 17, 2020

Fettucine Alfredo from scratch is super easy and super good.
posted by rhizome at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2020

We're planning to try a farro and mushroom recipe from the latest issue of the AARP magazine.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:53 AM on March 17, 2020

Response by poster: Ah, forgot to mention that hard cheeses, nuts and mushrooms are also banned, as are other things that tend to linger in the stomach and guts - even pierogis have been vetoed, though light tortellini should be ok. Pancreas related. Taking notes here, keep them coming!
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:13 PM on March 17, 2020

Maybe tell us a bit about her favorite foods?
posted by mumimor at 12:31 PM on March 17, 2020

Yeah, I'm kind of thinking "what we know is OK" will be the shorter list of ingredients.
posted by rhizome at 3:35 PM on March 17, 2020

« Older Put on your own oxygen mask first   |   Best way to support independent stores and brands... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.