Got a box of pasta in your cupboard? I suppose the easiest thing to do with it would be to boil it up and smother it with
some sauce from a jar. But this is not the stuff inspiring meals are made of—let alone healthful or satisfying ones. With the
right mix of ingredients, even a plain old box of pasta can be elevated to something truly wonderful, something you would
happily serve to your family or even to guests.
No need to slave in the kitchen for days, either. The best pasta dishes are usually the simplest, in my opinion. It is pasta,
Here’s how the EatingWell Test Kitchen makes sure pasta is healthful:
Try whole-wheat: Whole-wheat pastas have the benefit of retaining their magnesium, zinc and
other nutrients. On average, whole-wheat pasta offers two to three times more fiber per serving than regular white pasta.
Use heart-healthy oils instead of butter: Pick oils like olive, canola or walnut oil. These
are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as opposed to butter, which is loaded with saturated fat. (Butter has 7.3 g
saturated fat per tablespoon vs. olive oil, which has just 1.9 g.) But keep in mind that even though unsaturated fat is
better for your heart, these oils are still high in calories and need to be used in moderation to maintain a healthy weight.
Give it a vegetable boost: To keep your serving generous but still healthy, use less of the
higher-calorie ingredients like meat or pasta and add in more vegetables. Near the end of the pasta-cooking time, add your
favorite vegetable to the boiling water, drain and combine it with your sauce.
1. Tomato Sauce
Recipe to try: Raw Tomato
In this raw sauce, tomatoes marinate in their own juices along with some fresh herbs, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and
red-wine vinegar. Diced fresh mozzarella absorbs the delicious flavors of the whole melange. Toss with hot or
2. Creamy Sauce
Recipe to try: Creamy
Lemon zest ties all the flavors together in this light and creamy pasta. Make it a meal: serve with a salad of sliced fresh
mozzarella and cherry tomatoes tossed with a little fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Recipe to Try: Goat Cheese
The taste of soft goat cheese is more present in this California version of pesto than Parmigiano-Reggiano is in a basil
pesto. Consider it a multidimensional recipe: dip, sauce and spread. Toss with your favorite cooked pasta.
If you can’t find a bagged vegetable medley for this easy noodle bowl, choose 12 ounces of cut vegetables from your market’s
salad bar and create your own mix.
5. Carbonara Sauce
Recipe to try: Spaghetti
In this version, the eggs are cooked into a custardlike sauce. An extra step, yes, but the technique ensures food safety. To
vary the vegetables, try green beans, asparagus or frozen peas (cook peas separately from pasta).
What's your favorite way to dress up a box of pasta?
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