For those on low-sodium diets, here’s a tasty trick: Grab some citrus. Just like a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange will perk up any ingredient from leafy greens to proteins, not to mention grab the attention of your taste buds. And while you might not expect it, these fruits are at their best and brightest during winter, so now is still the perfect time to play with their tangy flash of flavor.
You can mix things up and use citrus in your favorite warm comfort dishes — including pasta. In place of a heavier alfredo sauce, the combination of warm citrus and olive oil offers a creamy coating for noodles that’s both lighter in calories and naturally low in sodium (as well as dairy-free — bonus!). Keep the dish basic with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and cracked black pepper. Or dress things up with sauteed vegetables and roasted chicken. Best of all, be sure to enjoy this citrus pasta all year-round, adding avocado and corn during the summer months and squash during the fall.
Pasta with Warm Citrus Sauce
8 oz uncooked spaghetti or fettuccine
2 garlic cloves, passed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic)
2 lemons, juiced and seed removed (1/2 cup juice)
2 large oranges, juiced and seeds removed (1 cup juice)
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta from the pot and set aside in a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the cooked garlic out of the pan and into a food processor or blender. Set aside.
In the same saucepan, add the lemon juice, orange juice and honey. Increase the heat and boil the mixture for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken, another 5 minutes.
Add the sauce to the food processor or blender with the cooked garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Allow the mixture to cool just a bit, about 5 minutes. Then blend until well combined and smooth. Add the citrus sauce and the basil to the pasta. Gently toss and serve while warm.
Sodium content: Uncooked spaghetti: 0 mg sodium, depending on brand; lemons: 0 mg sodium; oranges: 0 mg sodium
Jessica Goldman Foung began the blog SodiumGirl.com to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life. She regularly writes about salt-free flavor tips and ingredient swaps and is the author of Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook. She is currently working on her second cookbook, to be released next year.