Spring Pasta Dishes

No matter what time of year it is, I still crave a delicious, satisfying pasta dinner. Once the cold weather passes and the warmer air arrives, those heavy pasta dishes need a lighter and fresher spin. I tend to cook a pasta dinner once a week, always a great go-to meal when the week is busy but you still want a comforting yet healthy, home-cooked dinner. Whole wheat pasta is a staple in my kitchen, usually of a spaghetti, penne, rotelle, rotini or orzo variety. Changing from regular pasta to whole wheat is a great way to add more fiber and protein to you diet, and basically give you more bang for your buck making you feel full faster.

My first pasta reci
pe is based on a dish I ate often while living and working in Torino, Italy during the 2006 Winter Olympics. Called "Rainbow Pizza" in English, this pizza seemed to be a regular on many menus in Torino and Milan. The combination of ingredients is so flavorful and colorful. The pizza dough is baked and drizzled with olive oil and freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Just as the pie comes out of the oven, it is covered in fresh arugula and ribbons of prosciutto. After working a long day at the International Broadcast Center dressing the broadcasters of NBC for the programming of the Winter Olympics, my friend and I would head to a little restaurant around the corner from the Media Village and indulge in a bottle of house wine and "Rainbow Pizza". So, the first recipe is a spin on that pizza but with pasta. The whole wheat Rotelle gives the dish a slight bite and coats well in the garlicky olive oil sauteed red onion and tomatoes.

The second recipe came about from one of those nights when there really isn't many ingredients to work with; and you just don't feel like going to the store. After a busy day, nothing helps me unwind more than cooking a yummy meal and enjoying it with my husband. With not many fresh ingredients on hand, I turned to frozen copped spinach, frozen chicken breast, and of course, pasta. This dish turned out to be warm and delightfully comforting-the perfect remedy after a long day.

Lizzy M.'s Rainbow Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thin

2-3 plum tomatoes, q
Sea salt and freshly ground black p
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 lemon wedge

2-3 cups fresh arugula (about 1 cup per person)

4 slices prosciutto, cut into long, thin ribbons (about 2 slices per person)
Freshly shaved Parmigiano Reg
giano or Pecorino Romano
Whole Wheat Rotelle Pasta or any pasta you like


1. Prepare pasta according to directions.

2. While the pasta cooks, in a
large saute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced red onions, salt and pepper, and saute for about minutes or until caramelized.

3. Next add the quartered tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes. After the 2-3 minutes, turn the heat to low, then add the garlic and a squeeze of the lemon wedge. Saute on low for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove the pasta from the heat
into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature for a few minutes. Toss the pasta with the sauteed onions, tomatoes, and garlic, fresh arugula and prosciutto. Serve the pasta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Lizzy M.'s Lemon Chicken and Spinach Florentine Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 chicken breast will serve 2-3)

Sea salt and freshly grou
nd black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

4-5 thin slices of lemon

1/2 medium red onion, chopped small

2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup cream (You can also milk, fat free half and half-whatever you have.)

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Lemon zest

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Whole Wheat Spaghetti (any long pasta will do- Fettuccine or Linguine)


1. Cook pasta according to p
ackage's directions.

2. While the pasta cooks, season the chicken breast with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and olive oil.

3. In a large sa
ute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, add the seasoned chicken breast and lemon slices. Saute for about 5-7 minutes on the first side, then turn over and saute for another 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest. Transfer the lemon slices to use as garnish for the pasta.

4. After the chicken rests for about 5 minutes, on a cutting board slice the chicken until it is almost shredded.

5. In the same large
saute pan, add a small amount of olive oil and heat. Add the red onions and saute for about 4-5 minutes or until caramelized. Next, add the sliced chicken and garlic. Allow to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

6. Add the spinach, sour cream, cream, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Cook the ingredients on medium to low heat until it becomes a creamy sauce. Turn the heat off of the sauce. Then, add the pasta into the saute pan and toss until well-coated in the spinach and chicken sauce.

7. Serve the pasta garnished with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and lemon slices.

I hope you will enjoy these spring-time pasta recipes. Never be afraid to pull things out of the freezer and throw something together. It is almost like a challenge. Try to make something out of very little and see what delicious dinners you can create! Happy Spring!

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