Now that school’s in session and folks are back to work, I’ve been thinking about solutions for fast, convenient meals that don’t sacrifice good nutrition. Recently, I took a look at building Easy to Assemble Meals perfect for whipping up some delicious quick dinners. This week, I’m all about pasta – another quick way to feed your family a healthy, tasty meal without falling prey to the fast food trap.Kids love pasta, and so do grown-ups. After all, it’s easy to prepare, versatile, inexpensive and super satisfying — making it a perfect choice for busy weeknights. These days it’s easy to expand your horizons with an assortment of pasta made from a variety of whole grains such as spelt, whole wheat and even sprouted whole grains. We’re lucky these are so readily available. I remember a time when pasta meant either spaghetti or macaroni made strictly from white flour. Not so anymore! You’ll even find an abundance of gluten-free pasta made from brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and corn.
When it comes to busy weeknight meals, you can’t beat a simple pasta dinner. Just remember to follow the package instructions for cooking unless, of course, you are following a recipe that says otherwise.
Here’s my favorite “pasta-in-a-pinch” recipe:
Cook either fresh or dried pasta according to package directions.
Add grilled or roasted veggies, either home-cooked or purchased from our Prepared Foods Department.
Top with some protein such as beans, chopped cooked chicken or baked tofu.
Top with a favorite pasta sauce or a splash of quality extra virgin olive oil and your choice of seasonings. Among my favorites are: sea salt, black pepper, chives, parsley and a light grating of Pecorino cheese.
Here’s a sampling of some of our pasta-for-dinner ideas:
A good pasta meal is made great by the addition of colorful green, orange, red and yellow vegetables. Try some baby spinach or arugula, a variety of colorful bell peppers, some broccoli, grated carrots or beets. These recipes are ideal: Pasta with Mushrooms, Spinach and Mt. Tam Cheese, Penne and Broccoli with Zesty Gorgonzola Sauce and Pasta with Greens.
Get truly Italian with this Sicilian classic Pasta Alla Norma, a delicious meal prepared with eggplant, basil, tomatoes, olives and ricotta salata cheese.
Tomatoes and pasta make a happy couple, but you haven’t lived ‘til you’ve sampled the “ménage a trois” of pasta, tomatoes and cheese. Here are Capellini Pomodoro, Layered Pasta and Veggie Bake and Pasta Primavera.
Pasta can also be completely dairy free (no cheese), yet totally satisfying and delicious. This Puttanesca Pasta is a great example.
Pasta salads make great dinners, too. Here’s my post on Portable Pasta Salads with plenty of great ideas.
Many pasta meals are make-ahead perfect. Simply bake or prepare over the weekend and keep for a quick weeknight dinner or a take-along lunch.
Got a pasta-in-a-pinch recipe you’d like to share? Let me know.