Recipe of the Week: Easy Pasta Dinner | The Family Fork

Recipe of the Week: Easy Pasta Dinner

I should really call this "Assembly of the Week" as this dish is all about putting a few shortcut products together to make a meal. That's kind of my m.o., taking convenience or shortcut foods and turning them into a healthier dish or meal.

Now that it is officially winter, a hot pasta dinner always goes over well. Personally, I've been making this, and variations of it, about once a week. Here it is.

Easy Pasta Dinner
Ingredients (or should I say products)
* 3 cups dry (8 oz) penne pasta (or whatever pasta shape you like best)
---mix half and half whole wheat pasta with regular pasta. (Chances are your family won’t even notice a difference)
* 1-2 lb microwaveable bag of broccoli florets (or broccoli and cauliflower florets mix)
* 1 - 26 oz bottle of marinara sauce
* 1 - 1 lb bag frozen meatless meatballs (I use Trader Joe's which are really yummy)

Puttin' It Together:
1. Add pasta to 3 quarts of boiling water in a large pot.
2. Boil, uncovered for 10-12 minutes (or until pasta is at your desired tenderness. After 10 minutes fish out a piece with a slotted spoon and taste test it). Stir occasionally.
3. While waiting for water to boil, bring marinara sauce and frozen meatballs to a light boil in a large saucepan with the top on. Reduce heat to very low and allow to simmer. Sitr occasionally. (Leaving the top on helps to eliminate sauce splatter, making clean up much easier!)
4. Microwave broccoli in bag for 3-5 minutes (microwave times vary so you may need a little more time or a little less depending on the power of your microwave).
5. Drain pasta and put it immediately back in the pot.
6. Immediately add steamed broccoli and marinara sauce with meatballs to pasta.
7. Stir until sauce lightly coats the veggies and pasta.
8. Plate & Enjoy!

Now you've got an easy dinner you can feel good about serving to your family. It's got your veggies, whole grains and heart healthy plant protein.

You can of course make this with real meat meatballs, but keep in mind that will increase the saturated fat and cholesterol and you'll miss out on some fiber.

Use any veggies you like, I'm just a broccoli fanatic myself.

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!

(photos courtesy of evilhayama, Prince Roy, and sfllaw.)
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.