Today I’m sharing my summer pasta recipe that is not only healthy and nutritious but also so easy to whip up and can be modified with any fresh veggies you may have in your fridge! Pasta is also one of those meals that can sometimes get a bad reputation as being heavy and calorie & carb laden. And yes, some pasta dishes, especially ones you order at restaurants, you should be wary of portions and ingredients. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite pasta dish and it also doesn’t mean that pasta cannot be included in a healthy diet and should only be solely labeled as a “cheat meal”. This pasta delish below is chock full of vegetables and whole grains and is also light enough so you can enjoy it in these warm summer months! Check out the recipe and ingredient health benefits below and let me know if you give it a try!
Summer Pasta with Basil, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Spinach & Roasted Red Peppers
- 12 ounces of pasta of choice ( I used organic whole grain farfalle)
- 1 large or 2 medium zucchinis (you can also use summer squash)
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes halved
- 3 cups of fresh or frozen spinach
- 1 cup of fresh basil finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers (I just used jarred Divina brand but you can feel free to make your own too!)
- 8 garlic cloves chopped (I love garlic so this may seem excessive for some, feel free to modify to your preference!)
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp parsley plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until very lightly browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini and increase heat to medium high; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until zucchini begins to break down. Turn down heat once it begins sticking, and continue to cook until the zucchini is soft, about 12–15 minutes.
- Add in tomatoes, roasted red peppers, spinach and parsley and continue to cook on medium low.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente.
- Transfer pasta to skillet with zucchini and other veggies, add in basil and parsley and stir everything together.
- Let everything simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
- Serve and top with parmesan and more parsley!
Why is this dish healthy?
Whole Grain Farfalle: Whole Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). Whole grains are also a great source of dietary fiber, which can, as part of an overall healthy diet, help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is also important for healthy bowel function and helps reduce constipation.
Zucchini: High in water and contains significant amounts of fiber and electrolytes.Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation.High in vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, folate, riboflavin, niacin, zeaxanthin and lutein. For those who don’t know, zeaxanthin and lutein are important in maintaining and improving eye health by fighting free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, vitamin K and fiber.
Spinach: Spinach is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. It contains high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron and calcium.It’s also chock full of antioxidants that may help fight aging and reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes. Spinach also aids in the increased production of collagen, which helps to strengthen the capillaries for a smoother even skin tone, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines (YASSSSS!!). The vitamin A in spinach can also help your skin retain moisture to fight against dryness, psoriasis and even acne. Spinach also contains high amounts of nitrates, which have been shown to help moderate blood pressure levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Red Peppers: Red peppers contain more than 200 percent of your daily vitamin C intake. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps the proper absorption of iron. If you are iron deficient, try combining red peppers with your iron source for maximum absorption. Similar to it’s friend the tomato, red peppers are also full of the antioxidant lycopene as well as Vitamin A which can support healthy eyesight.
Garlic: Garlic contains a number of useful minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as trace minerals like iodine, sulfur and chlorine. Garlic can also help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers. The chemical compound allicin in garlic is effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible for some of the most common and rarest infections, including the common cold.
Basil: Herbs like basil contain essential oil compounds because these help the plant defend itself from predators like bugs, rodents and strains of bacteria in the soil. When we ingest these protective oils, we experience similar benefits: a boost in immunity and protection from disease. Fresh basil offers a healthy dose vitamins K, A, manganese, and magnesium.
Hope you all enjoy this healthy, summer meal!
P.S. This dish is also delicious served cold the next day as a pasta salad 🙂