Nutritious Pasta Recipes
Cooking Light is working with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA’s MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to thousands of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov. Find recipes at pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes/.
Grains, vegetables, dairy, and protein are all essential aspects of the MyPlate healthy eating challenge. Pasta dishes are an easy, simple, and appetizing way to combine two or more of these groups into one dish that your family will love.
Dig into a simple end-of-summer pasta toss loaded with chicken, cucumbers, and peanuts. We use dried udon noodles; if using fresh noodles, you'll need about 11 ounces.
Creamy Chicken Pasta
This easy chicken recipe tosses together the winning combinations of pasta, creamy mascarpone cheese, and chicken–yum!
Bacon and Butternut Pasta
Broth, thickened with flour and enriched with crème fraîche, forms the savory sauce in this dish. We like the earthy heartiness of kale, which helps balance the sweetness from the squash. You could also use Swiss chard, or for a more peppery bite, try substituting mustard greens.
Spring Linguine with Basil
Pasta should be easy and delicious, like this entrée. Prep the peas, cheese, and basil while the pasta water heats. Serve with a green salad to round out the meal.
Orecchiette with Kale, Bacon, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Orecchiette (little ears pasta) is a classic shape that’s ideal for this chunky sauce. You can also substitute short pasta shapes like penne or rigatoni. If you can find mild-tasting cavolo nero (black kale), try it here.
Fusilli with Pistachio Pesto
Toss cooked fusilli pasta with a homemade pistachio pesto for a refreshing twist on traditional pine nut-based pesto dishes. Add cooked chicken for a heartier dish.
Bucatini with Eggplant and Roasted Peppers
Eggplant and capers, which are among Sicily's staple ingredients, add a delectable flavor to this summery pasta sauce. If you can't find bucatini (long, hollow pasta), you can use linguine or spaghetti. Prepare the sauce up to 2 days in advance, and then reheat gently over medium-low heat while you cook the pasta.
Garlicky Spaghetti with Beans and Greens
Canned beans are a great pantry staple with lots of protein and fiber. To help reduce sodium in regular canned beans, we rinse and drain them.
Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna
This zucchini eggplant lasagna makes use of fresh summer produce in a filling meatless entrée.
Roasting tomatoes intensifies their sweetness. We also tested this recipe with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano—it's a splurge that makes the difference.
Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce, Asparagus, and Peas
Citrus flavors and fresh vegetables brighten this meatless pasta recipe. Leftovers pack nicely for work or school.
Pan-Fried Udon Noodles with Teriyaki Sauce
Udon noodles are a popular Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, traditionally served hot in the winter and chilled in the summer. This dish features udon noodles sautéed with fresh vegetables and topped with teriyaki-infused tofu.
Spicy Shrimp and Fettuccine
This easy shrimp fettuccine dish is an appealing, affordable option for entertaining. Add more or less red pepper depending on how much heat you prefer.
Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettuccine
The goat cheese rounds in this delicious dish are baked at a high temperature to crisp the breadcrumb coating and heat the cheese just enough to melt when you cut into one.
Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken in Peanut Sauce
Classic Asian flavors come together to create a quick and easy chicken dish with spicy soba noodles that you can have on the dinner table in no time.
Penne with Wild Mushrooms
Tender wild mushrooms such as oyster, hedgehog, or chanterelle are best for this dish, although cultivated oyster mushrooms are also suitable. Substitute fettuccine for penne, if you like. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.
Rotini with White Beans and Escarole
Ready in just 20 minutes, this rotini pasta dish comes together in just two easy steps and is a meal the whole family will love.
Linguine with Arugula Pesto
Add a peppery bite to your pesto with fresh arugula. Top with freshly grated pecorino Romano and serve with seasonal veggies.
Linguine with Garlicky Breadcrumbs
This dish of pantry staples is a good choice for a hectic weeknight supper. Toast the breadcrumbs in advance to speed preparation later.
This vegetable lasagna is perfect for making ahead and can easily transport to a potluck or the freezer.
Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Peas
An ideal dish for warm-weather entertaining or to serve to company, this pasta dish is full of only the freshest flavors of summer.
Fettuccine with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Tomatoes
We love this dish with pistachios, but for a less expensive alternative, try walnuts. Save the smallest mint leaves for a pretty, delicate garnish.
Take plain cheese ravioli from boring to beautiful with a mix of cherry tomatoes, shallots, and basil.
Beefy sirloin draped in wine-spiked, creamy mushroom sauce: the comfort of stroganoff with a meatball twist. Serve sautéed Broccolini, spinach, or Brussels sprouts alongside this hearty entrée.
Spinach-Artichoke Pasta with Vegetables
We love everything about T.G.I.Friday's Spinach & Artichoke Cheese Dip, but calories and sodium can add up quickly after just a few bites. But what if those few bites were used to flavor an entire meal? A little low-fat milk helps stretch this creamy dip into a light, luscious sauce that dresses up hot cooked pasta and fresh, crunchy veggies—a healthy, hearty weeknight meal, ready in just 25 minutes.
Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese
Indulge in this lighter version of the comfort food favorite. Because it uses unsalted stock, it eliminates a lot of added sodium.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
You can't go wrong with this classic family favorite. We amp up jarred marinara with charred onion, garlic, and plum tomatoes.
Pasta with Roasted-Tomato Meat Sauce
Don't skip the anchovies in this recipe—they add a savory, salty layer to the sauce.
Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine
The hot pasta will melt the Parmesan cheese and help the sauce cling to the noodles.
Fettuccine With Pumpkin Sauce
Pair this seasonal dish with a quick fall salad: Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon honey in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce, 1 sliced apple, and 2 tablespoons pumpkinseeds; toss.
Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce add savory depth to this creamy mac. If you can't find large elbows, regular elbows will work.
Rigatoni with Meaty Mushroom Bolognese
A rich, meaty Bolognese can take hours on the stove, but this savory mushroom version is ready in just half an hour.
Shrimp and Broccoli Scampi
Pan seared shrimp and broccoli come together in this favored pasta dish. Ready in just 20 minutes, you have time to enjoy this scampi even on your busiest days.
Grape Tomato, Olive, and Spinach Pasta
We love small, sweet grape tomatoes in this quick meatless pasta dish, but you can sub cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes that have been seeded and diced.
Creamy Asparagus, Herb, and Pea Pasta
Mascarpone cheese, unsalted chicken stock, and 1/3-less-fat cream cheese create a smooth and creamy sauce that pairs beautifully with asparagus, herbs, peas, and pappardelle pasta.
Linguine with Garlicky Kale and White Beans
This dish gets its flavor from loads of chopped fresh garlic. We recommend serving it with toasted baguette slices and a glass of white wine.
Spring Pasta with Morels
Fresh morels yield a smoky flavor in a mushroom that has a pleasing honeycomb texture. Because woodland debris collects in the honeycombs, you’ll want to clean morels with a quick dunk-and-swish in a bowl of water.
Fettuccine with Squash Ribbons
Stirring olive oil into boiling water creates a quick emulsified sauce for this simple, summery pasta.
Orecchiette with Cress and Spring Pea Sauce
The fresh, vibrant flavors of sweet peas and peppery cress meld beautifully in this simple pasta dish. If you can't find orecchiette, small shell pasta is a good substitute.
Quick Rotini with Sausage and Tomato Sauce
You can substitute spinach for the arugula, if you like. For less heat, decrease or omit the crushed red pepper.
Tortellini with Snap Peas and Pesto
In just 25 minutes, this family-friendly Tortellini with Snap Peas and Pesto is ready to serve. Want to save even more time? The tortellini and snap pea mixture can be prepared a couple of days ahead of time.