What is the best way to enjoy nutritious food without compromising on taste? Have some healthy pasta recipes in hand!
Introduction to Pasta
Pasta is a dish that originated in Italy and involved the making of dough using durum wheat and water. This dough is then cut and stamped into various shapes and then cooked in boiling water.
It is quite simple to cook pasta, however pairing pasta with sauce can be the real deal. There is a general rule of pairing pasta and sauce, which is followed throughout by cooks.
Usually, smaller-sized pasta is paired with light sauces so that it doesn’t overpower the texture of the pasta and on the other hand chunky kind of sauces that has a thicker texture is paired with thicker kinds of pasta.
Pasta can be healthy when it’s paired with vegetables and proteins. Portion size matters as well. The appropriate amount would be ¼ of a plate of pasta, and consciously control the amount of sauce and cheese. Healthy pasta dishes can also be in the form of Pasta salads or even air-fried pasta dishes.
Sometimes, the wheat pasta is replaced with healthy alternatives such as zucchini noodles, better known as zoodles, that are fresh and gluten-free. Here below are a few healthy pasta recipes.
1. Summer squash sauce with rigatoni pasta
The first step is to heat oil in a deep skillet pan on a medium flame. Add and cook 1 thinly sliced shallot, occasionally stirring, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the butternut squash and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, occasionally tossing until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
To this mixture, add boiled rigatoni pasta that has been cooked to Al Dente, and keep cooking till a thin sauce that coats the pasta is formed. Add lemon juice and black pepper, and the pasta dish is ready! Additionally, a sprinkle of pecorino cheese enhances the flavor.
2. 5 ingredient pesto pasta
As the name suggests, this recipe requires only five ingredients; Long pasta noodles, Peas, ricotta cheese, and some lemon zest. Boil the long pasta noodles. These could be of any type, from pappardelle, Fettucine, spaghetti, and so on.
Next, make a paste out of the peas in a food processor. Add the ricotta and lemon zest, and season it with salt and pepper according to taste. Combine this thick sauce with the pasta, and enjoy with chives sprinkled on top as garnish.
3. Red Capsicum Alfredo pasta
This healthy pasta recipe requires a little more effort than the rest, but it’s worth it, considering it takes only 30 minutes to prepare and offers almost 600 calories per serving. In a baking pan, add some chopped red capsicum and some thinly sliced garlic cloves, and sprinkle olive oil on top.
Roast for about 25 minutes, While the red capsicum is roasting, cook a long noodle pasta such as linguine until it is Al Dente and toss in some fresh lemon juice. Once the roasted red peppers are ready and cooled, add them to a blender with some heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Blend to form a thick sauce, which is then folded with the pasta to create a nutritious and tasty pasta dish.
4. Summer fresh pasta
Also known as the ratatouille pasta, this dish is the perfect blend of fresh veggies and delicious pasta. Cook any pasta according to the package directions. Slice a brinjal, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and red onion, and drizzle it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and place it on a pre-heated grill.
Grill the veggies for 3-4 minutes so that they are tender but still retain their freshness. In a big bowl, toss the cooked pasta with these grilled veggies and garnish with basil.
5. Shrimp scampi pasta
Shrimp is the perfect addition to any healthy dish, whether it is pasta or not, thanks to its high protein and low calorie, carb, and fat content. This particular healthy pasta recipe uses the popular shrimp scampi sauce.
To make this sauce, one needs to cook the shrimp in oil for 3 minutes or so on medium-high heat so that the shrimp is cooked through. 4
To a pan, add zucchini, garlic cloves chopped, and butter. Saute for a few minutes, and then add white wine and salt to taste. Cook for a few more minutes till all the alcohol in the wine is burned off, leaving behind the flavor of white wine.
Once cooked, add any well-cooked pasta, the cooked shrimp, and some Italian seasonings. Toss with lime juice and serve hot.
6. Easy heirloom tomato sauce pasta
The unique part about this pasta dish is that it requires no sauce cooking. It only requires the pasta to be boiled over the flame, making for a perfect weeknight dinner. Finely chop a few tomatoes and toss with olive oil and salt. Keep the pasta to boil, preferably spaghetti.
Chop another tomato and add to a food processor along with some sliced garlic cloves, sliced red bell peppers, and some lightly roasted almonds. Blend, taste, and add salt accordingly.
Once it turns to puree, add it to the bowl with the chopped tomatoes and the pasta. Toss and add basil as a garnish, and a healthy vegetarian meal is ready.
7. Pasta Puttanesca
Puttanesca Fresca is a pasta salad. For this particular recipe, first, cook the pasta to al dente. Heat a grill on medium flame and marinate a boneless skinless chicken breast with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. This recipe requires tubular pasta to hold a lot of sauce, such as rigatoni or penne pasta.
Place the chicken breast on the grill for 15-20 minutes, flipping it halfway to ensure it’s fully cooked. While the chicken cooks, add some chopped tomatoes, pitted olives, crushed garlic, and fresh basil to a bowl. Add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, some olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the bowl.
Once cooked, thinly slice the grilled chicken and add it to the bowl. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and toss everything together until well combined.
8. Spinach Lasagna
This super delicious pasta is perfect for a weekend dinner with the whole family. Mix ricotta, spinach, mozzarella cheese, egg, and salt. In a baking pan, layer marinara sauce, lasagna noodles, and ricotta mixture starting and ending with marinara sauce and breaking noodles to fit. Cook on low till the noodles are tender.
While the cooking process of this healthy dish is quite long, since it contains only 355 calories, it is a popular go-to option for people who have the time.
9. Italian spin on Lo mein
This popular Chinese takeout dish is made up of noodles made of wheat flour and eggs, which is quite similar to the making of Italian pasta. Fresh ingredients and any protein complete this dish.
This version of Lo mein replaces the noodles with long pasta. The best results come from spaghetti made of whole grains. First, cook the whole grain spaghetti, and instead of completely straining the water, add some chopped broccoli, frozen edamame, baby carrots, and baby spinach to the pot.
Once the veggies have been blanched, drain the pot. Add some toasted sesame oil and some sliced onions. Cook for ten minutes on medium-high heat. Add peeled and grated fresh ginger, soya sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Combine this with some scrambled eggs and toss the noodles for a delicious pasta dinner.
10. Caprese pasta with zucchini noodles
One of the most popular healthy pasta recipes, zucchini noodles, are gluten-free and have low-calorie content compared to wheat pasta. In this recipe, Zucchini is peeled into thin noodles and cooked in oil till it softens.
The zucchini noodles are then removed from the heat and tossed in a bowl along with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
11. Sausage and Mushroom pasta
Cook some Italian sausages for 5 minutes until it is browned and broken down. Add some sliced onion and cook until they are browned too. Add a little water to ensure it does not get stuck to the pan. One of the best healthy pasta recipes, this simple dish requires only a few ingredients and makes for a very filling dinner.
Stir in the mushrooms, and remove the pot from the heat once they are softened. Add the cooked pasta, the sausage mixture, some fresh kale, and a pinch of salt and black pepper to another skillet, and add some chicken stock. Toss until well mixed.
12. Chicken and brussels sprouts pasta
Season a lean chicken breast with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a deep skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add the chicken and once it’s cooked through, transfer it to the bowl. Add sprouts, water, margarine, red pepper, and a pinch of salt to the same skillet. Stir for a few minutes, and add some breadcrumbs and garlic.
Switch off the flame when the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. After draining the pasta, return it to the pot. Stir in chicken, sprouts, and pasta water. This dish is a definite hit at the dinner table.
13. Hummus Pasta salad
This Mediterranean-inspired pasta salad recipe is usually considered a side dish but can also be a hearty vegetarian meal. It requires more meal prep than the usual healthy pasta recipe but makes up for it in taste. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and on a baking sheet, spread some garbanzo beans, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Bake until the beans are golden brown. For this recipe, one can even use leftover pasta. Since the salad is served cold, the slight firmness of the pasta adds to the overall texture of the salad.
Toss the pasta with kale and a sauce made of water, tahini, garlic, olive juice, lemon juice, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and olives, and one of the tastiest pasta recipes is ready for consumption.
14. Chicken and spinach pasta salad
Filled with nutritious veggies and added protein, this healthy pasta recipe is perfect for fussy kids who are too taken by the taste to notice all the healthy greens in the salad. This pasta salad recipe makes for a filling weeknight dinner and, like many other pasta salads, can be made with just leftover pasta.
Combine hummus, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss in the pasta and mix till it is coated. Add spinach, chicken, tomatoes, and olives. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
15. Healthy Cacio e Pepe
This peppery dish is made of just 6 simple ingredients and is a popular comfort food thanks to its familiar taste. Pecorino Romano cheese, cracked black pepper, butter, olive oil, salt, pasta water, and spaghetti pasta are all required for this recipe. Add the Al Dente spaghetti to a pan with oil, salt, and pepper, and cook until fragrant.
Add the cheese and as much water as required to melt the cheese, and toss well till the pasta is coated with the sauce. In the end, add the butter and stir well to ensure the pasta is smooth and creamy. Find the recipe for this Italian Classic here.
16. Slow-cooked lasagna
The first step is making a bolognese sauce. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and fry onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for 5-10 mins, stirring frequently until softened. Unlike many other healthy pasta recipes, this particular recipe is quite laborious and time-consuming, so the best time to make it would be on a lazy weekend.
Add some ground beef and stir until it browns. Pour in fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, and various Italian seasonings. Within 5-10 minutes, the meat sauce will be ready.
Next is to make the bechamel sauce. First, make a rue with whole flour and milk, and to it, add parmesan cheese, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Once the sauce is ready, layering the cooked lasagna with the sauces. Bake for an hour, and this super delicious pasta dish is ready!
17. Healthy creamy pasta salad
Tomatoes, celery, onion, broccoli, olives, and herbs, tossed with sour cream and dill dressing, which then coats the well-salted al dented fusilli pasta. That’s all there is to this simple pasta salad recipe, an appetizer dish that the whole family can enjoy.
18. Sun-dried tomatoes pasta
Sundried tomatoes are known for their tangy and subtly sweet flavor. They are a classic Italian ingredient, along with basil and olives, and the pasta made from these veggies is easy to make and very nutritious. While the pasta boils, add chopped shallots and minced garlic in a pan. Season with salt and cook for about a minute.
Add the chewy sundried tomatoes, and once they soften, add the whole milk and parmesan cheese. If you want the sauce to be creamier, add some pasta water to the pan. Within 10 minutes, the sauce will be ready. All left is toss in the olives and pasta al dente and garnish with fresh basil.
Everybody wants to have tasty food. Not all healthy eating should involve oats and quinoa. So the only way to get the best of both worlds is whole grain pasta. It provides nutrients and proteins without compromising on taste. Recently, people have also discovered vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free substitutes for almost every ingredient.
Vegetables that kids would never eat, such as sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, and zucchini, are all made fun through pasta recipes. The above dishes are a mix of appetizers and main dishes, but all pack, the same level of flavor and health benefits, be it healthy fats or healthy greens.
There is no set rule for what makes a good pasta dish. As long as the ingredients used are fresh and nutritious veggies, one can always explore and experiment, creating recipes to suit their and their families needs.