If you are a pasta lover, like me, than this is the dish for you! It tastes amazing and will satisfy any pasta craving, but it is also jam packed with veggies and nutrient dense grains that make it a perfectly balanced meal 🙂
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 small bell peppers (red & orange taste best!)
1 cup chopped mushroom
3-4 small zucchinis (or yellow squash)
1 small bunch of kale (or spinach)
1 12 oz. jar of tomato sauce
1 cup quinoa, brown rice, or lentil noodles (for more protein & fiber!)
3 tbsp avocado oil
Italian seasoning (or all purpose seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper to taste
* it’s also good to add fresh herbs like basil and oregano!
First, get all of your ingredients together. I am using a simple tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s along with some red and white quinoa noodles from Costco.
I would definitely recommend trying the GoGo Quinoa brand of noodles if you haven’t already! They taste just like a regular noodle but have much more protein and fiber then regular noodles from the quinoa. Definitely my favorite gluten-free alternative!
I also always try and buy my veggies organic when I can! But due to price and availability not everyone can always buy organic (including me!).
So as a rule of thumb, only focus on buying produce that is organic when you are going to eat the skins!
In this recipe for example, it’s best to buy the bell peppers, squash, and kale organic. The onion, garlic, and mushrooms are generally less of a concern because you are peeling off the skin on the garlic and onion and mushrooms are typically grown indoors where pesticides are not necessary.
Next, begin chopping up the veggies! I always chop up the onion, bell pepper, and mushroom first because they take the longest to cook. After you get your vegetables prepped toss them into a hot pan with about 2 tbsp of avocado oil in it.
Side Note: My preferable cooking oil is ALWAYS avocado oil! Why? Because it has the highest heat level of almost any oil (500 degrees F) which means that you can bake, roast, and saute at high temperatures without your oil burning off! This matters because oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when they burn (i.e. olive oil). Also avocado oil is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) which is classified as a healthy fat because it lowers bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raises good cholesterol levels (HDL). Contrary to popular belief, coconut oil is not nearly as good for you as avocado oil is!
Let them cook up for about 8 minutes stirring frequently until the mushrooms are starting to brown and the bell peppers are softened. Season with salt, pepper, and favorite seasoning blend. (mushrooms need a decent amount of seasoning to not taste bland!)
While this pan is cooking up start chopping up the zucchini. The zucchini needs to be steamed for 5 minutes before sauteing.
I usually do this by just putting a few tbsp’s of water into a pan and steaming/cooking the zucchini covered on high until it is very tender (about 3-4 minutes).
When all the water has cooked off add in the other tbsp on avocado oil and saute them up until they’re golden. Season with a little salt and pepper and then mix them in with the cooked onion, bell pepper, and mushroom!
After mixing all the veggies together get a pot boiling for the noodles! Add the dry noodles in and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 minutes or until noodles are al dente. Drain and set aside, but don’t rinse because the sauce sticks to the noodles better when they aren’t rinsed.
You might have noticed by now that I haven’t added in the garlic! That is intentional!
I know it’s super common to see recipes that have you add in the minced garlic along with the onion, but I never do that because 1) garlic cooks much faster than onion does and 2) the longer garlic cooks the more mild the flavor gets.
I personally love garlic and want as much good garlickiness as I can get! Especially when it comes to cooking Italian 😉 So I add in the garlic after everything else so that it doesn’t loose all of its flavor!
Quick Tip: Cut up your garlic and LET IT SIT for at least 5 minutes before cooking with it! Why? Allicin is an organosulfur compound found in garlic that is responsible for garlic’s amazing antimicrobial, anticancer, and antioxidant properties! Studies have shown that when garlic is cut and left to sit it produces much higher levels of allicin and more of its anticancer abilities are preserved after the cooking process than if the garlic is cooked immediately after cooking!
After the garlic has cooked up add in the noodles and cook for another minute or two, mixing the noodles in with the cooked veggies.
Next, pour in your tomato sauce and stir it around so that all the noodles and veggies are coated evenly.
Lastly, shred up your kale into small pieces leaving out the stem. Turn off the heat and stir the shredded kale into the hot pasta. Give the kale a minute or two to slightly wilt and then voila! You’ve made my famous veggie pasta!
Makes about 5 servings. Each serving has 422 kcal, 50g carbs, 19g fat, 15g protein, 6g fiber, and 13g sugar