These are the BEST healthy pasta recipes that use wholesome and simple ingredients, and are perfect for a quick dinner! Over 20 delicious options to choose from, including a creamy chicken and spinach penne!
As someone who meal preps regularly, I love having some delicious healthy pasta options on hand.
Pasta dishes are some of my favorite healthy dinner recipes. Contrary to popular belief, pasta is not fattening or unhealthy. There is an unfair stigma that pasta, spaghetti, lasagna, and gnocchi are all empty carbs, but that is far from the truth.
When paired with protein, vegetables, and a tomato or light cream based sauce, it is a filling, nutritious, and delicious meal. These days, they enrich many pastas with added protein and fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer.
How do you make healthy pasta?
To make a healthy pasta, you need to include some form of protein and some green leafy vegetables. This chicken and spinach pasta ticks the boxes. It combined lean chicken breast with baby spinach and pasta, all mixed in a low fat creamy sauce. Here is how to make it.
- Penne pasta– While any pasta can be used, I find the penne variety holds the flavors better than other shapes. You can also choose to add an even healthier boost by using wholewheat pasta, high fiber pasta, or protein pasta.
- Olive oil– Flavorful oil with heart healthy properties to cook everything in.
- Garlic-Freshly minced.
- Chicken breast– Lean and low in fat, sliced chicken breast adds a healthy dose of protein to this dish. Chop the chicken into thin strips or bite sized cubes.
- Italian seasonings– Adds some lovely Italian flavors that compliments the chicken and sun dried tomatoes.
- Salt and pepper– To taste.
- Parmesan cheese– Freshly grated NOT the shelf stable kind.
- Reduced fat cream– Adds creaminess without excessive saturated fat. Light cream cheese or sour cream can also work.
- Dijon mustard– Adds a subtle, rich and sharp flavor throughout.
- Sun dried tomatoes– finely chopped. I prefer using sun dried tomatoes packed in oil but you can cut use the tomatoes packed in water.
- Baby spinach– Loosely packed.
- Lemon juice– Balances out all the sweet, salty, and rich flavors.
Start by cooking the pasta as per the boxed instructions. Reserve half a cup of the cooked pasta water then set aside. In a mixing bowl, add the chopped chicken and mix through the Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper.
Next, add oil into a non-stick pan or skillet and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the seasoned chicken breast and pan fry until no longer pink. Stir through 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, then remove the chicken from the pan.
Now, add the pasta and pasta water into the pan. Once it simmers, add in the remaining parmesan cheese, cream, Dijon mustard, and spinach. Once it has thickened, add the chicken back into the pan, along with the sun-dried tomatoes. Mix and simmer for a further five minutes before removing off the heat.
Finally, serve the pasta immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.
Here are some other ingredient options to change up the flavor of the pasta (or whatever you have on hand). They are also some other foods to put on pasta to make it healthy.
- Protein– Smoked salmon, tuna, ground beef, ground chicken, or even ground turkey can be used.
- Vegetables– Sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini.
- Cream– Light sour cream, non-fat Greek yogurt, or coconut cream.
- Pasta– Rigatoni, farfalle, and risoni.
- Cheese– Reduced fat mozzarella cheese or cheddar cheese.
Storing, freezing, and reheating instructions
- To store: Leftover pasta can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one week.
- To freeze: Place portions of the cooked and cooled pasta in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Reheating: Microwave the pasta for 30-40 seconds until warm or in a non-stick pan. If you use the stovetop option, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk or milk alternative before reheating.
What are healthy pasta meals?
These are the BEST healthy pasta recipes and pasta meal ideas for a quick, easy, and delicious dinner. You’ll find baked pasta dishes, chicken pasta recipes, vegetable lasagnas, pasta salads, and more. All these meals can be prepped ahead of time and leftovers freeze beautifully. They are filling, nutritious, and taste so good, no one will know they are good for you! Not only do we share the original healthy pasta recipe, but over 20 delicious options.
Healthy pasta recipes
Frequently Asked Questions
Most types of pasta have similar nutritional statistics. They are high in carbohydrates (unless it’s keto pasta), but low in fat. Many brands are now adding fiber and protein to them, and some are even using high protein flours to make them.
No food should be off limits when losing weight. Pasta has similar calories to rice, noodles, and breads. Enjoying pasta as part of a healthy dinner is a fantastic weight loss or low calorie meal.
20+ Healthy Pasta Recipes
- 1 lb penne pasta cooked per box instructions
- 8 ounces sun dried tomatoes packed in water, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb chicken breast chopped
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese divided
- 1 cup light cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Cook pasta as per the instructions. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Add the oil to a large skillet. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the chicken, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Stir through ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese, then remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add the pasta to the skillet along with ¼ cup of the pasta water. Once simmering, add the remaining parmesan cheese, heavy cream, mustard and spinach. Once it has thickened, add the chicken back into the pan, along with the sundried tomatoes. Mix and let simmer for five minutes.
- Remove the skillet off the heat, drizzle with lemon juice, and serve the pasta immediately.