4 Slimming Pasta Recipes For Mediterranean Diet Month

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Mediterranean Diet Month Pasta RecipesI love the push I’m seeing back to actual cooking as a cornerstone of vibrant health. Across the country, leading nutrition experts are staging “Eat Ins” (like Dr. Mark Hymen’s here)  to bring people back to the table (and the stove). And last month Mark Bittman dished with with Michael Pollan - the godfather of this food movement - about his latest book, Cooked, and updated what has become the rallying cry of food lovers and health enthusiasts alike:

“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. And cook them.” 
"And cook them." Three little words. But for many of us - aye, there’s the rub.
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Are You Cooking?
Hectic lives filled with multiple responsibilities, family and work commitments, and limited budgets can make cooking feel like a drudgery rather than a pleasant daily habit. And let’s be frank, who isn’t strapped for time these days? But cooking is really the fourth pillar of a lean and green diet, right after a diet brimming with whole, minimally processed foods, that features at least 3/4 plants and 1/4 high quality animal products, and with the right portions to avoid both obesity and food waste.
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To celebrate Mediterranean Diet Month, I’m bringing you 4 fresh seasonal pasta recipes that couldn't be easier, or more delicious and healing. I’m sharing 2 of them below, and 2 in my next blog. While one features all the best of spring farmer's markets, the other is an insanely good, omega-3 fatty acid-rich dish you can literally make from ingredients in your pantry. In full disclosure, I developed these pasta recipes for Barilla to help them celebrate their Double Pyramid coming to America to help consumers understand how the Mediterranean Diet is good for you and good for the planet.

Let me know what you think! These are teeming with delicious, good for you ingredients, many of which are just coming into season.

Gorgeously Green Penne Spring Pasta - Mediterranean Diet Month Pasta Recipes

Gorgeously Green Penne Spring Pasta

This is a spring fling with your farmers market! The bold, fresh flavors of spring vegetables are brought to life with lemon zest. The peas and walnuts pack added protein for staying power.

Cook Time: 20 min, Prep Time: 10 min Makes 7 Servings

Ingredients

1 box penne 3/4 cup walnuts 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (or panko) 2 lemons zest 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped Pinch of salt 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 medium leek, thinly sliced 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1.5 cups) 2 cup fresh spring peas (or frozen) 1 large zucchini, julienned 1/2 Tsp salt 1/4 Tsp fresh cracked pepper 2 Tbsp fresh mint, julienned 2 Tbsp fresh basil, julienned

Preparation

PREHEAT oven to 400ºF. TOAST walnuts in oven for 5 - 8 minutes until the walnuts are lightly toasted.  In a food processor, PULSE together bread crumbs, walnuts and zest from 1 lemon. POUR into a medium dish and TOSS with parsley and a pinch of salt. SET aside.

PREPARE penne according to package directions. DRAIN reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, POUR olive oil into a large sauté pan. ADD the leeks and asparagus, and sauté over medium heat for about 4 minutes until they start to soften. ADD the peas and the zucchini, salt and pepper, and SAUTE another 5 minutes until all of the vegetables are slightly softened.  ADD zest of SECOND lemon and reserved cooking liquid and STIR gently until combined.  DRAIN pasta when it’s al dente and return to cooking pot. ADD vegetables to pasta and TOSS to combine. GENTLY stir in mint and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  SERVE 1 cup pasta mixture into serving bowls.  Top with 2 tablespoons of the walnut mixture.

 Nutrition Information (per serving): 410 calories, 16g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 8g fiber, 220mg sodium

Zesty Tomato Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives

Zesty Tomato Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives

This is the ultimate quick cook meal! All of the ingredients are from the pantry, perfect to have as an on-hand/“standby” meal.  The tuna adds protein and is rich in heart healthy omega 3 fats.

Cook Time: 15 min, Prep Time: 10 min Makes 7 Servings

Ingredients

1 box spaghetti 1 jar marinara sauce 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into lengthwise slivers 1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste if you like spice) 2 cloves garlic, sliced 2 Tsp capers, drained and rinsed 1 cup pitted black olives, sliced in half (about 2/3 of a 6 oz. can) 1 jar/can sustainable tuna * packed in olive oil, drained (use 2 jars if you want heartier tuna portions) Handful of arugula for garnish (optional)

*Sustainability in seafood depends on where you live: visit here to see which type of tuna is the best choice for you.

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Preparation

BRING a large stockpot of water to a boil, and COOK spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, ADD olive oil, onions and red pepper flakes, sauté over medium heat until onions are softened, about 5-8 minutes. ADD garlic and sauté 1 minute more.  ADD a jar of marinara sauce, capers, olives and 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water and STIR to mix well. DRAIN the pasta, and ADD to saucepan with marinara sauce. Use tongs to gently toss together until combined.  SERVE by placing 1 cup of the pasta in a bowl. TOP with a couple pieces of tuna, and a handful of arugula.

 Nutrition Information (per serving): 400 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 7g fiber, 690mg sodium

 

Looking for more Mediterranean cuisine inspiration? Check out my post, Eat Like a Roman, for other recipes, including Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Lentils and Fresh Herbs, and more!