Pasta has gotten a bad rap in recent years with all of the “anti-carb” diets, but I grew up eating pasta and I refuse to remove it from my dinner table. The key is to eat a smaller portion and fill it out with some serious veggie power.
It’s so easy to get into a pasta rut, spaghetti and red sauce anyone? Buy there are a variety of ways to shake it up.
Pasta can be a blank canvas, but try changing pasta brands and try pasta made from different grains. If you’re not a fan of whole wheat pasta, there are plenty of delectable options with brands that you will love as much as I do.
Try brown rice pasta that is always a hit with kids, or farro that has whole grain goodness with the a tender texture similar to white pasta , or quinoa pasta, made from a mighty grain that is high in iron.
Now that you have a wide range of bases to choose from, here are some easy ways to “vegefy” your pasta:
- Think outside your traditional lasagna – vegetables, such as thinly sliced zucchini and mushrooms, added in between those luscious layers, adds wonderful flavor and nutrition while making the portions larger without adding loads of calories.
- Frozen veggies are a great way to add some green in a cinch, and even though they are frozen, they still retain their nutrition. Just place them in a colander and top with a pinch of salt. Rinse under hot running water, shake and add to your favorite sauce.
- Love baked ziti? Toss in thinly sliced broccoli, spinach or diced peppers, no need to precook the vegetables, they will soften in the oven.
- Use seasonal veggies, which are fresher and tastier. Diced butternut squash (that is steamed) with sage, Parmesan and walnuts create a warm Fall rigatoni; cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and diced fresh mozzarella in the summer, asparagus, peas and goat cheese in the Spring, and roasted Brussels sprouts, with balsamic, and pine nuts for the Winter.
- If your kids are hooked on red sauce, try adding one thinly sliced red pepper to your kid’s favorite sauce, they won’t even notice.
- Pasta Verde: use one tablespoon of olive oil and saute 3 or 4 of your favorite green vegetables, add 1/2 cup of part skim ricotta and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Toss with your favorite pasta and add thinly sliced basil for a fat free flavor boost.
- BLT Pasta
- Low Carb Lasagna