Making dry pasta a regular part of your diet is an easy and healthy way to eat more vegetables. According to the National Pasta Association, “children and adults who consume pasta also tend to consume more vegetables and have healthier diets overall”.
It’s not hard to see why. Pasta makes cooking a farmers’ market-fresh meal super easy as almost any vegetable can be served in a pasta dish. I can’t think of any that can’t.
If you’re shaking your head at the pasta itself and all the empty carbs and refined white flour, I’ve got some pro-pasta arguments in a Medium blog post I wrote over here.
I also saw a recipe for pasta with cantaloupe and prosciutto once. I have yet to try it but maybe there is a way to make a pasta with any fruit as well.
Ravioli with apples is classic. Orange and duck makes a great combo. Pasta with lemon and butter is popular and I’m more than ready to try stuffing some pasta with pear. Banana, however, does give me pause and seems like a good challenge. Can you make delicious pasta with bananas? I’m going to experiment with this one.
But back to the vegetables, a lot of online recipes for fancy pasta dishes are actually crazy simple and follow a few simple steps:
- Decide whether to cook the vegetable. Raw vegetables can be used in many cold pasta salads. Green beans, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and onions can all be eaten raw with pasta. Raw fruits are good in pasta too, especially those that seem like vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.
- If cooking, decide how to cook the vegetable. Roasting, boiling, and sautéing are all common options.
- Fat and salt are essential to any pasta dish and are added based on the cooking method. If roasting the fat and salt usually go in the oven as in this cauliflower recipe. If boiling, I often boil first and then briefly sauté as in this recipe with Brussels sprouts. Vegetables can be sautéed in fat as in these zucchini pasta recipes. Seasoning and spice, like black pepper and red pepper flakes are also a good addition along with the salt or colatura di alici, as is a crushed garlic clove in the fat. By fat, I usually mean olive oil. Although I often use butter or rendered pork fat from bacon, guanciale, or pancetta too.
- Cook the pasta and put it together with the vegetable and toss, either in a bowl or frequently over some heat to help blend things together. Greens and herbs, such as kale and spinach, or minced parsley, are also often a delicious addition at the end. They can be added just before the pasta or along with the pasta in a skillet and cooked until wilted. I also often add toasted nuts near the end like hazelnuts, almonds, or pine nuts. And of course, don’t forget the cheese!