Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Pasta”

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Spaghetti squash pasta

Tasty? Yes. Easy? Yes. Healthy? Yes. This recipe fulfilled all of my weeknight meal wants. It tasted good, it was simple to make, and it filled me up. The garlic and basil added flavor to the entire dish, while the mushrooms, tomato, and spinach added a variety of textures.

Spaghetti squash pasta 2

Spaghetti squash pasta:

*Serves 4-6

Ingredients: 

1 medium to large spaghetti squash, halved with the seeds removed

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil for the veggies + 2 tsp  for the squash

2 large garlic cloves, diced

1 1/2 cups of sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

2-3 handfuls of spinach, washed and dried

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder + more for the spaghetti squash (use about the same amount to season the squash)

2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the spaghetti squash halves face down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until they are tender.

2- After about thirty minutes of baking the squash, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Then add the garlic. After about 1-2 minutes or when the garlic is beginning to brown around the sides, add the mushrooms. After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes. Let them soften for about 2 minutes. Then add the spinach and seasonings. Let the spinach cook down and take it off the heat once it’s cooked and add the basil. Stir well.

3- When the squash is done, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like pieces into a serving bowl. Add the extra olive oil and season with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then toss in the vegetables and serve. Bon appetit!

A Pasta Dish Infused with the Flavors of Lemon, Garlic, and White Wine

asparagus pasta

I’ve always admired people who have the ability to be subtle. You know the type. Those that tell you that you have spinach in between your teeth without embarrassing you. The type that can ease their way into a group of gabbing people without a hitch. People that can nearly trip, but catch themselves just in time to regain their composure.

Not me. No, I’m usually the one with the spinach in my teeth, whilst tripping and falling all over the floor. I guess you can say I’m talented at being a klutz. At that, one who is far from inconspicuous. Subtle just isn’t one of the words I would use to describe myself, but my asparagus lemon pasta, on the other hand, was just that.

Flavors of fresh lemon juice, sauteed garlic, and chardonnay wine blended together to form a simple sauce that lightly coated the hearty whole wheat orecchiette pasta. The taste of basil and rosemary made themselves known between between bites of steamed asparagus.

If any of you have any lessons on subtlety, I’m in the market for hints. For now, I’ll just stick to this pasta dish. Read on for the recipe.

asparagus pasta 2

Ingredients for asparagus-lemon pasta: 

1 tsp + 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin

1 pound of asparagus, discard the ends after cutting them off and then slice the remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, salt, and dried basil

1/4 tsp of rosemary and garlic powder

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 tsp+ of lemon zest (or more depending on the strength of lemon flavor you want the pasta to have)

1/2 cup of white wine (chardonnay worked well for me – I chose one that wasn’t oaky, as some varieties can be)

1/2 pound of the pasta of your choice (I used orecchiette-shaped pasta)

Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese) *optional

Method: 

Fill a large pot three quarters of the way full with water and heat it over medium heat. While waiting for it to boil, heat a frying pan over medium heat with the teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.

In the meantime, dice the onion and slice the garlic cloves. Add the onion to the pan. Let the onion cook for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the pan seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water (instead of adding more oil – it’s a way to add more moisture without adding more calories). Then add the garlic slices. When they start to brown add the asparagus, spices, and lemon juice and zest. Let the asparagus cook 10 minutes or until it is tender, but still crisp. When the asparagus is almost done add the white wine. Let the wine cook off for about two minutes.

In the meantime, when the water begins to boil, add the pasta. When the pasta is done, strain it, put it back into the pot, and add the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled a bit more garlic powder, salt, and pepper on top of the pasta before adding the veggies. Toss and serve immediately.

While the ingredients in this pasta dish were simple, they combined to form deep flavors. I’ve never gone wrong by adding white wine to a sauce-less pasta dish or to my glass while I was cooking. Cheers!

An Easy Portabello Pasta Dish

Portabella pasta

Eric’s eccentric Aunt Raven and Uncle Ed are coming to stay with us tomorrow. I am happy to have them stay with us, especially since they have been so hospitable to us when we go up their way to visit Burlington, VT. Partly, I’m just excited to have more people to cook for! Does that make me weird? I want to jump at the opportunity to push food on people. Actually, I think that is just my Italian roots coming out. My Nonny always finds something to feed me when I visit, whether I’m hungry or not. It always turns out to be delicious, so I have a hard time turning her down. In the end, Italian hospitality will always find a way into your stomach.

Recently, I’ve learned that I love to entertain for people. Not necessarily the whole organizing part of it, but I love cooking for people. The only problem I see with entertaining is needing to clean before people arrive and after they leave. When I came home tonight, there were dirty dishes on and around the sink, piles of clothes coming out of the hamper, and stacks of my to-read books scattered around in several rooms.Needless to say, I had more than enough cleaning to do to keep me busy tonight.  Now that it is nearly done, I feel  relieved and accomplished. For some reason, when the house is neat and orderly I feel more relaxed. I love having everything put away, the bed made, and the dishes washed. Having a big mess just starts to eat away at me. Sometimes I see a mess and it launches me into a huge cleaning frenzy (usually at 10:30 at night when I should be laying in bed). When I get into those moods I just won’t stop until the cleaning is done, while Eric is usually sound asleep in bed, unaware of my compulsive urge to neaten up the house.

Tonight, the need to clean started soon after I arrived home. It was perfect because Eric wouldn’t be home until later, so I had more time before needing to start dinner. I walked around the house cleaning up dishes, sorting laundry, and making the bed, without feeling the need to rush. When Eric finally called around 7:00 pm, I was half done cleaning and ready to start dinner. Quick and simple dinners are my specialty and this one was no exception. I made whole grain rice pasta topped with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, bright golden-hued bell pepper strips, and seasoned portabello mushroom slices. Despite that it only took 25 minutes of cook and prep time, it tasted amazing. The pasta dish also got Eric’s stamp of approval. For a hearty tasting pasta recipe, read on.

Portabella pasta

Ingredients for portabella pasta: 

*Serves 2 (double recipe to serve 4)

1/2 pound of pasta of your choice (I used whole grain brown rice pasta)

1 portabello mushroom, sliced thin

1/2 of an orange bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into thin strips

1 tbsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper (to sautee with) and a sprinkle of salt

1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and thyme

1/4 cup of fresh basil, sliced thin

1/4 cup of pine nuts

Method: 

1- Fill a medium-large pot with water and heat it on high. Then add the tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan.

2- While you are waiting for the water to boil, slice the bell pepper and portabello mushroom. Once sliced, add them to the pan with the olive oil. Stir them in the oil so all of the veggies get coated. Add the sprinkle of salt, as well as the pepper and garlic powder. Let the mixture cook. Take it off the heat when the peppers are still crisp, but both vegetables are softened (and cooked through – just don’t over cook).

3- Add the pasta when the water is boiling. Add a dash of salt and stir it up. When the pasta is done drain it and put it back in the pot. Then add the extra virgin olive oil and spices, as well as the vegetable mixture. Stir and add the fresh basil and pine nuts. It is that simple!

This basil portabello pasta dinner didn’t disappoint. Do you have any favorite quick, yet delicious go-to weeknight meals?

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Spinach

Sun dried tomato spinach pasta 5

The aroma of garlic filled my tiny kitchen. The goat cheese became softer as I folded it into the pasta and vegetable mixture. At first bite, the tangy taste of the sun dried tomatoes balanced out the mild flavor of the creamy goat cheese. The still slightly crunchy orange hued bell peppers added some texture to the dish. Tonight I made sun dried tomato pasta with baby spinach. This deliciously healthy dish was complete in a quick and easy 25 minutes. After hearing so much about the benefits of dark leafy greens (& all the vitamins and minerals they provide), I thought I would incorporate them into my dinner. Find the recipe below!

Sun dried tomato spinach pasta 1sun dried tomato spinach pasta 3sun dried tomato spinach pasta 2

Ingredients: 

1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta for 2 people (with leftovers) or a pound for about 4-6 people

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 cloves of diced garlic

1 diced bell pepper (yellow, red, or orange)

8 ounces of baby spinach

1/2 tbsp of butter

1/4 tsp salt, freshly ground pepper, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and basil

1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes (I soaked mine in warm water to soften the dried tomatoes – this wouldn’t be necessary if they came in packaged in oil)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of goat cheese

Directions: 

1. After putting a pot of water on to boil, you can begin to chop the garlic and bell pepper.

2. Put the olive oil in a skillet and when the oil is hot add the garlic. Before the garlic becomes brown, add the bell pepper pieces to the pan.

3. Allow the bell pepper to cook for about three to five minutes. Once the pepper has softened a bit, add the spices to the frying pan and stir the mixture up.

4. Throw the spinach into the pan. It should take a few minutes (3-5) to cook down. You should put a cover on top to help the spinach cook. When the spinach has softened you can stir the mixture together and add the sun dried tomatoes.

5. At that point the pasta should be finished cooking. You can drain the pasta and then put it into a serving bowl. Then add the extra virgin olive oil (to keep the pasta from drying out). You can also add the vegetable mixture. Folding the goat cheese in is finishing touch.

*Pine nuts would be a great addition to this dish. Initially, I meant to buy feta cheese,  but I bought goat cheese instead (and it still turned out great). To give the dish a Greek twist add feta cheese and kalamata olives.

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