Summer Pasta Recipe

I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie,” but I do like to cook. However, there are days I have nothing planned and have no idea what to do for dinner. On these days, I borrow a move from one of my favorite cooking shows: Chopped on the Food Network. I simply open the fridge and pantry, gather some ingredients, and put together something that I think will go well together.

For a hot, Tuesday evening, this presents more of a challenge because I do not want to use the oven, nor do I want to go out in the heat to the store. In addition, I want the meal to be healthy and tasty. Tonight, I quite surprised myself with a delicious summer pasta dish without much planning or a trip to the store.

I had the following ingredients:

 1 cucumber

Mixed salad greens

4 Radishes

1 eggplant

1 green pepper

4 Roma tomatoes

Fresh Spinach

Garlic in a tube

Parmesan cheese

Whole Wheat Pasta (this is a staple in our house)

Fresh herbs from my garden (dried herbs work, too)

This seemed pretty obvious to me: pasta night with a mixed salad.

Here’s how to make my version of pasta primavera:

  1. Set the water to boil for the pasta (I add a little salt & olive oil. My favorite pasta is Ronzoni Healthy Harvest).
  2. In a skillet, cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (I use Pam Olive Oil).
  3. Chop the green pepper & eggplant into bite-sized cubes & add to the heated skillet.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and set aside (some people like to remove the tomato seeds, but I like to use the entire fruit).
  5. Stir the vegetables so they don’t burn, and add the pasta to the water when boiling.
  6. Cook the vegetables until they have a little bit of color; then add some garlic. You can use fresh garlic, but all I had was in a tube. (A friend of mine turned me on to the Gourmet Garden brand of finely chopped herbs in a plastic tube. This has been a lifesaver for me on many occasions. I keep ginger, garlic, and basil on hand at all times. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.)
  7. Add the fresh spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilting. Remove from the heat.
  8. By now, the pasta should be done, so drain it and put it back in the pan.
  9. Here’s the important part: add a touch of extra virgin olive oil to the pasta so it won’t stick together.
  10. Then add the cooked vegetables to the pasta with the cut tomatoes. Reserve some of the tomatoes for the salad.
  11. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and fresh cut herbs from the garden (I used basil, oregano, & thyme).

According to My Fitness, this is the nutritional information for the pasta dish:

The cucumber and radishes went into the salad greens with some sunflower seeds I found tucked in the back of the pantry. If I had planned this dish, I would add mushrooms and zucchini and omit the eggplant. I rarely use eggplant; it just happened that I had some left over from making eggplant lasagna last week.

You don’t have to follow my recipe exactly. With a little creativity and some basic ingredients, you can do the same thing: mix together some vegetables with some pasta or rice, or even potatoes, and you have a healthy, vegetarian meal without much hassle. Try canned or frozen vegetables if you don’t have fresh, and if you have some pasta sauce, you can add that to the mix.