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Dijon mustard gives pasta richness

Dijon mustard is one of my go-to ingredients for making sauces, dips and glazes.

A slew of brands are on the market, though Grey Poupon is perhaps the most well-known.

Dijon mustard, originally from Dijon, France, is a smooth, pale yellow mustard made from mustard seeds, white wine and unfermented grape juice. The grape juice is a must, according to many food reference guides.

Most stores carry a wide selection of Dijon mustard with other added ingredients, such as herbs and spices.

Here are three unconventional ways to use it:

•Mix with reduced-fat mayonnaise and use as dip with pretzels.

•Make a glaze, mixing it with orange marmalade or apricot preserves to spread on grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

•Whisk 1 tablespoon Dijon with 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar. Add fresh chopped herbs. Slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin). Season with salt and pepper. Use as a vinaigrette or toss with red skin potatoes and roast.

In this pasta recipe, the Dijon gives the sauce its tanginess and, because it’s thick, acts as an emulsifier that allows you to omit high-fat ingredients such as butter and heavy whipping cream to make the sauce.

You only need one pot and one serving bowl. The broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes are cooked with the pasta, eliminating the need to dirty another pot.

You can use a heat-proof bowl to make and warm the sauce, and you can use it to serve the meal as well. The heat from the pasta water warms the bowl, keeping the sauce and the other ingredients warm.

Penne With Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Dijon Cream

Cooking the broccoli for just 2 minutes keeps it vibrant green.

1 large clove garlic, peeled, minced

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup fat-free or regular half-and-half

8 ounces penne pasta or favorite short pasta

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, place the garlic in a large, heat-proof serving bowl that will fit partially in the pot. Add the mustard to the bowl and whisk in the half-and-half. Set aside or place over the pasta pot to warm while the water is heating. Once the water begins to boil, remove the bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is al dente, according to package directions. About 2 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 2 more minutes.

Remove 2 cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta, broccoli and tomatoes. Place the cooking water back in the pot and leave on low heat.

Set the heat-proof bowl with the mustard sauce over the pot with the remaining pasta water. Add the pasta mixture and toss to coat and heat through. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the cheese. Toss again to coat and heat through.

Garnish with a grinding of black pepper.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories (20 percent from fat), 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 51 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 437 milligrams sodium, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

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