Summer Staple: Pasta + Fresh Veggies

by Maria on June 29, 2012

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It's summer and that means I have a refrigerator stocked with fresh greens and veggies and an herb garden lush with parsley, basil, and oregano. As usual I also have a pantry stocked with pasta. All the makings of a summer pasta dinner.

Composing a Plan

I keep a variety of pasta on hand at all times. I like the whole grain and multigrain pastas for their nutritional value, but light summer vegetables also pair well with traditional pasta. Before I choose a pasta type I will also consider my family’s diet that day – could it use a little boost or have we been eating whole grain and high fiber all day?

After selecting the pasta I scan the refrigerator for vegetables and this time of year I can almost always count on finding spinach or another green leafy and zucchini. Add staples such as fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese and dinner is a go.

Sometimes I have chicken sausage or bacon on hand in the refrigerator, a small amount of either will add a bunch of flavor to your pasta. Other times I have leftover chicken or frozen shrimp that I add in for some extra protein and variety.

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Let’s Get Cooking

While the water is boiling:

  • start rinsing greens, mincing garlic, and chopping veggies
  • set the table
  • cook the pasta al dente according to package directions

When the pasta is cooking:

  • start sautéing garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan
  • add the veggies, saving the greens and herbs for last and stirring these until just wilted

When the pasta is done:

  • drain, reserving about ½ cup of water in case pasta is dry
  • combine pasta with veggies, right in sauté pan if it fits
  • season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, tossing to combine
  • top with freshly grated parmesan cheese 

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Additional Tips

For picky eaters, reserve a serving of plain pasta before you mix in the vegetables. Try serving it tossed with olive oil or butter and vegetables on the side.

Athletes love pasta for its densely packed carbohydrates. If you are watching your calories eat a small portion and aim for a high ratio of vegetables to pasta. All of the CooksAid recipes have portions that are on the smaller side, keeping the calories in check but still filling you up.

If you don’t feel like you are quite ready to make your own pasta creation, try one of these great recipes:

Chicken, Arugula and Bell Pepper Pasta

Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus

Pasta with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Penne with Chicken, Zucchini, and Spinach

Spinach, Zucchini and Walnut Pasta

Penne with Leafy Greens

Linguini with Shrimp and Feta


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