Michelle Welling

3 Healthy Pasta Recipes

Words by Charlotte Lindsay

healthy pasta ingredients

Have you got a stash of pasta from the initial lockdown pasta buying frenzy? Keep reading to see how you can put it to a good and healthy us.

STEREOTYPES ABOUT PASTA

I’m sure we’ve all heard at one time or another, ‘pasta has too many carbs’ or ‘pasta is heavy, I want something light’. It is safe to say, there are a few negative stereotypes around pasta as it is often seen as a carb-heavy dish. However, as with most things in life, pasta is good in moderation. Next time you’re preparing pasta, don’t stress over carbs, just understand your portions. Not only is pasta a satisfying and sumptuous dish, but it contains some valuable nutrients too, which can be further enhanced depending on your choice of sauce. Pasta is definitely one to be incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet. 

Whole-grain pasta is also a good option if you are looking to lower calories and carbs, in turn, it contains more nutrients and fibre too. Try to add in some extra veggies and protein where you can to keep you feeling fuller for longer. For example, add meat or fish.  For your veg additions, look to broccolini or fresh pomodorini for extra fibre and vitamins, there are so many options. So beat the pasta stigma, get experimental, and indulge in a pasta recipe that works for you!

HOW TO MAKE PASTA HEALTHIER

Wondering how you can pimp your pasta to up the nutritional value? Incorporate an extra serving of veg into the recipe. For example, peas and tenderstem broccoli work exceptionally well with pesto pasta. A dash of vegetables in a recipe adds freshness along with a punch of greens, what more could you need? Or, consider letting your pasta cool and mix it with a fresh bag of mixed baby leaves to turn it into a fresh and satisfying pasta salad. You may also want to ditch the cheese and add in an herb or two for extra fragrance and nutritional value. 

You can also look to try more non-traditional pastas made from lentils, spelt or quinoa for gluten-free and protein-rich options. So, there are many ways to make your pasta healthier, don't be afraid to try something new.

2 UNDERESTIMATED INGREDIENTS TO ADD TO PASTA:

Sage 

Did you know this mediterranean herb belongs to the same family as oregano and lavender? This fragrant herb also encourages the flow of digestive enzymes, which naturally help to break down and digest your food with more ease. It can also be used to settle your stomach.

Parsley 

Not only does parsley help to decrease bloating and water retention, the enzymes in parsley can help release the nutrients from the foods you are eating. And not forgetting to mention, it improves digestion and aids in breaking down food. It’s a win-win.

The real question is, which will you rush to incorporate into your next pasta dish? Will it be a parsley filled tomato pasta or a butter and sage sauce for your all time fave ravioli? Either way, don’t hold back! 

3 PRO PASTA TIPS

  1. Add a cup of the water that the pasta is cooking in, to your sauce, the starch from the pasta makes sure your sauce becomes creamy and does not go dry.
  1. Always cook your pasta 1-2 minutes less than the time suggested on the packet to achieve the perfect “al dente”. Did you know al dente pasta is also easier for your body to digest? 
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a good quality, artesian pasta. The high quality wheats will not only make it taste better, they also release more starch. This starch will add a silky and creamy texture to your sauce without having to overload the olive oil or other fats. 

Less chat, more action, time for some recipes...

3 HEALTHY PASTA RECIPES:

Serves 2 (adjust the recipe proportions according to how many people you are cooking for).

Healthy vegan pasta

Vegan tagliatelle with tomato sauce, porcini mushrooms & parsley

Ingredients:

200g tomato sauce

30g dried porcini mushrooms (soaked for 10-15 minutes in warm water, and keep the water)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp of sea salt

generous handful of chopped parsley 

70-100g dried pasta per person (depending on how hungry you are)

Method: 

  1. Bring a pan of water to boil then add a tablespoon of sea salt. 

  2. Pour your tomato sauce into a saucepan alongside your soaked porcini mushrooms, half the water they were soaking in and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, bring the sauce to boil, then turn off the heat.

  3. Once the water is boiled, place your pasta in the water and reduce to a simmer. Leave your pasta to cook for the amount of time stated on the packet, or for 1 to 2 minutes less to achieve the perfect al dente!

  4. Once cooked, drain the pasta and place into the saucepan, mix with your tomato and porcini sauce and stir in a generous handful of parsley.

  5. Serve and enjoy.

creamy pasta recipe

Vegetarian farfalle with ricotta, peas, lemon zest & black pepper

Ingredients:

250g ricotta

200g frozen peas

1 finely grated lemon zest

1 lemon juice

Black pepper

70-100g dried pasta per person (depending on how hungry you are)

Method:

  1. Bring a pan of water to boil then add a pinch of sea salt, your pasta and reduce to a simmer. Leave your pasta to cook for the amount of time stated on the packet, or for 1 to 2 minutes less to achieve the perfect al dente! 3 minutes before the pasta is ready, add in your frozen peas.

  2. Whilst your pasta is cooking place the ricotta into a large bowl, add your lemon zest and juice, mix together. 

  3. Using a mug, scoop 1 cup of the pasta water, and pour it into the ricotta mix.

  4. Once the pasta and peas have finished cooking, drain and place into the ricotta mix bowl, stir thoroughly until creamy.

  5. Serve up and enjoy.

healthy pesto recipe

Meat penne with pesto, pancetta & green beans

Ingredients:

Pesto: 

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan

2 packets/ bunches of basil

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp salt

2-4 tbsp olive oil (add slowly to create your ideal consistency)

1 tsp (generous) seal salt

40g green beans

Pasta:

50g pancetta 

70-100g dried pasta per person (depending on how hungry you are)

Method: 

  1. Prepare your pesto. Place your pine nuts, garlic and salt in the food processor, blitz together until the pine nuts are ground. Add in the basil and parmesan and blitz together, slowly adding in your oil 1tbsp at a time until you achieve your perfect pesto!

  2. Cook your pancetta in a non stick frying pan, place on the side once cooked. 

  3. Fill a small pan with water and bring to the boil, place green beans to boil for 4 minutes and drain once cooked.

  4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil with 1 generous teaspoon of sea salt, once boiled, place your pasta in, set your timer and reduce to a simmer.

  5. Take 1 cup of the pasta water and place on the side.

  6. Place your pesto, green beans and pancetta in a large pan, alongside the water from the pasta and pour it into the pan, simmer on a low heat and once the pasta is cooked and drained, place it into the pan and stir the pasta until the pesto and pasta are thoroughly combined. 

  7. Serve and enjoy. 

Whether you are using farfalle, tagliatelle, penne or even cannelloni, remember, there are many ways to make your recipes healthy, but most importantly, enjoy them, everything in moderation.