A Happy, Healthy Family


Veggie-Loaded Penne

Who loves pasta? Or, should I say, who doesn't love pasta??

I love a good pasta but understand that it can be a minefield for carbs and sugar, so I've tried to load up this dish with as many veggies as possible; it really has more vegetables than pasta if you do it right.

I call this recipe "Veggie-Loaded Penne," but you can use whatever pasta you like. I use penne most often because a shorter pasta complements the chunky sauce better than a long, thin pasta like spaghetti, but feel free to use whatever you like. Smaller pasta is also easier for kids to handle.

It's a forgiving recipe as well; just use my instructions as guidelines and experiment with whichever frozen or fresh vegetables you have on hand. It's a great way to use up some produce or clear out space in your freezer! You could easily use chopped asparagus, green peas, yellow squash, or eggplant in this dish. Make it your goal to get as many colors in there as possible!

Veggie-Loaded Penne Print Friendly and PDF
Yield: 4-6 servings


1 T olive oil
2 c whole wheat penne
1 small purple onion, diced
1 bell pepper (use whatever color you like), diced
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 c frozen or fresh broccoli florets
1 handful fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 c water
garlic salt, to taste
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
1 jar of your favorite marinara, or about 3 c homemade marinara

**If you are using store-bought marinara, be picky! Jarred sauce is notorious for having added sugar, so choose one that has as little sugar as possible. Also look for one made with olive oil as opposed to soybean or canola oil.


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
3. Add spinach and let wilt.
4. Pour in sauce and stir. At this point, I usually feel that the sauce is a little thick, so I add about 1/4 c of water. Add water to thin to your liking.
5. Add basil, oregano, and garlic salt to taste. 
6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender.
7. Serve over pasta.


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