Mastering the art of global cuisines, one country at a time.
Pasta Dishes: An Endless Variety
Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like pasta? Whether your favorite is angel hair spaghetti or ravioli, most of us like some type of pasta.
Admittedly, I hardly ever crave pasta dishes. I typically find these dishes to be heavy and loaded with fat and carbs such that I’m begging for a nap afterward. Later, I often feel guilty, wishing I had a killer workout to work off all the extra calories. Let’s look at sauces, too. Often made with tomatoes, vegetables, meat, and cheese, pasta sauces contain even more calories to an already fat-laden dish. For example, consider Bolognese, meat sauce, and marinara. All of them typically call for crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes and sometimes, tomatoes just get old. Aside from these, many other pasta sauces call for heavy creams with calorie counts that are best not to disclose.
Recently, though, I found myself wanting a pasta dish—one that I wouldn’t feel guilty making or eating. On the hunt for a healthy, satisfying, non-tomato heavy pasta dish, I developed a twist on a chicken pasta dish using diced chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and black bean pasta.
Never Heard of Black Bean Pasta?
You aren’t alone. I recently found this at Costco and have never felt any guilt about pasta dishes again. Why? Black bean pasta is made with black beans rather than enriched white flour, and it contains about 50 percent of your daily protein. Combine this with a protein like chicken, and you’ll be feeling full (and not guilty) for hours.
Other great options to your typical enriched white pasta are brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
So, what makes this dish so satisfying?
- Easy and quick: You’re using a skillet and a saucepan and are finished cooking in 30 minutes.
- Healthy: Not all your favorite pasta dishes are healthy. But with a combination of chicken, a light sauce, spinach, and your healthy pasta of choice, you’ll capture all your food groups in one meal.
- Versatile: Instead of chicken, try shrimp. Instead of spinach, try kale or mixed greens. Instead of the white wine, try chicken broth.
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 pound chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces black bean spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 cups fresh spinach, mixed greens, or kale
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to remove bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In a separate medium saucepan, boil water and cook pasta of choice according to the package directions.
- Heat an additional tablespoon of olive oil and add the garlic. Add the wine, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese, stirring until combined.
- Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add spinach and continue to simmer until mixed greens are wilted.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide drained pasta among four plates. Top pasta with chicken and sauce. Serve immediately.
This dish is full of protein, so it’s an ideal post-workout dish. Here are some things to note:
- Garlic: Use one clove of garlic or a tablespoon of the minced garlic from the jar. The latter will save you time.
- Wine: Dry wine, rather than a sweet white wine, works best for this dish.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add in other vegetables, such as zucchini or squash, for additional flavor.
- Cheese: Instead of Parmesan cheese, Asiago can be substituted.
Mary Rebecca Says
I'm a big fan of cooking flavorful dishes that pack in protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fat. Typically afraid of pasta dishes due to their high calorie counts and fat content, I'm excited to share this one that has all the healthful ingredients you need for a balanced dish.