Healthy Pasta

Growing up in an Italian household, pasta is a mealtime MUST-HAVE but how do you enjoy the family tradition without putting on the extra pounds? Here are some "Skinny" Pasta Recipes for you and your family to try!

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Skinny Spaghetti and Meatballs, recipe provided below (adapted from Pinch of Yum)

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups minced bell peppers (about 15 mini peppers)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra salt and pepper
  • 35 ounces super smooth spaghetti sauce (my preference)
  • 16 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • Fresh minced parsley and additional cheese for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep the peppers. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and stir until thick and sticky. Add the bell peppers, turkey and salt. Mix with your hands to really get the mixture incorporated.
  2. Roll the mixture into meatballs (I did smaller sized meatballs and I was able to make about 50) and place on a greased baking sheet. They WILL stick and brown on the bottom as they bake. Sprinkle the meatballs generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Heat the spaghetti sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and some fresh parsley; stir gently and cover. Let the mixture simmer until the noodles are done cooking and the sauce is warmed through. Combine the sauce and noodles directly in the pan, or just scoop the sauce on top. Sprinkle with a little cheese.
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Creamy Avocado and Spinach Pasta, recipe provided below (adapted from Jo Cooks)

Ingredients

  • 10 oz spaghetti or fettuccine (I used semolina pasta)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ½ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup basil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ to 1 cup pasta water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients to your blender and blend until it turns into a smooth sauce. Start with ¾ cup of pasta water and add more as needed to get the consistency you want.
  3. Toss the pasta with the sauce in a bowl and serve immediately. This sauce is best served the day it is made, as it uses avocados which will turn a brownish color.
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Cherry Tomato, Basil, Spinach, and Parmesan Pasta, recipe provided below (adapted from Life Made Sweeter)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of dried spaghetti or pasta noodles of your choice (I used gluten free pasta)
  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 flowing cups of baby spinach,roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 10 to 12 leaves) basil, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1 red chili pepper of your choice, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve 3/4 cups of pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, and gently saute for about a minute or two, until the garlic is just beginning to color (being careful to not let burn). Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and black pepper. Cook tomatoes for about 3-4 minutes until juices start to burst. Add the chopped chili pepper and cook for another minute or two until slightly softened.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water little by little until pasta is well coated. and consistency is reached (I used a little more than 1/2 a cup). Allow to simmer for about a minute then add the red chili pepper flakes, chopped spinach, basil and Parmesan cheese. Turn heat to low and gently toss to coat evenly. Add more pasta water if needed. Remove from heat.
  5. Season more to taste if desired and serve with extra grated Parmesan cheese.
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Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups, recipe provided below (adapted from Gal on a Mission)

Ingredients

  • Tomato Sauce:
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 teaspoons dried basil
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Filling: 
    • 10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed
    • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
    • 2 and ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
    • ⅔ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
    • 1 large egg
  • Noodles:
    • 12 lasagna noodles

Directions:

  1. Tomato Sauce:  Heat the olive oil over medium-heat in a medium sauce pan, add in the diced onions and saute until the onions are translucent. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, minced garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried parsley. Cover with a lid and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes over low-to-medium heat.
  2. While the tomato sauce is simmering, prepare your lasagna noodles according on the directions on the back of the package. Once they are done, drain the water and allow the noodles to cool to touch. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Filling: Prepare your filling by mixing together the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1 and ½ cups mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg. Set aside.
  4. Once the noodles have cooled to touch, lay the noodles down on parchment or wax paper on a smooth surface. See photos below.
  5. Assemble: Spread ¼ cup of the cheese filling evenly along length of the noodles. Roll the noodles to the opposite end. Pour 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place the lasagna roll-ups into the baking dish, add remaining tomato sauce on top of each roll-up. Place the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.