Quick, Easy, Fresh and Healthy Veggie Pasta

This is a quick, easy and versatile meal that can be thrown together in short order. Born of leftovers, unused ingredients, and last-minute planning, this dish proves that the blank space following the “what’s for dinner” question need not be filled by frozen pizza or *gag* takeout. Take a few minutes, collect your thoughts, gather together whatever’s in the fridge (which, if you plan ahead, should be the following ingredients) and get cookin’!

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As a side note, you could easily add pieces of sausage (above) or chunks of chicken to give this a little something extra.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion – diced
  • 1 yellow pepper – sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 14.5 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 2 cups fresh baby kale
  • 1/2 box high-protein pasta (I use this kind) – cooked
  • 1/2 cup pasta water – reserved from cooking

Directions:

This is a wonderful one-pot meal, which makes cooking a cleanup a breeze!

Using a large soup pot, cook the pasta (something like a penne) according to the package directions. Reserve half a cup of the pasta water before straining out the pasta.

Return the empty pot to the stove, set it over medium heat, and add the olive oil.

Heat the onion for a few minutes – until it’s translucent and begins to smell sweet – stirring every 30 seconds or so.

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Add the pepper slices, and cook in the same way for another two minutes.

Add the garlic, and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook for no longer than a minute, stirring constantly. Then add the tomatoes, and stir it all around.

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Once the ingredients are all well-combined, add the rest of the ingredients (the greens, pasta, herbs and water) and fold it all together. It will take a few minutes for the greens to wilt. Stir it intermittently until the greens are wilted, the liquid has begun to cook down, and the smell is mouthwatering and nearly too much to bear.

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WAIT!! Before you serve it up, give it a taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Seriously, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of salt and pepper.

The beauty of this meal is it’s simplicity and flexibility. I added some slices of Italian sausage -which I had grilled earlier – to my version, and topped it off with a dusting of Parmesan. You could also add other veggies, such as zucchini, asparagus or mushrooms (I know, its a fungi, not a veggie) during the process, or spice it up with some red pepper flakes or dried Italian seasoning.

Do your thing… and enjoy it! That’s the important part!

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