Who says you can’t whip up a delectable gourmet dinner for yourself? A solo supper can be so much more than cold leftover rotisserie chicken or a trip to the drive-through. I often crave pasta and cheese in all its glorious forms, but when I want to enjoy it with less guilt, I opt for lightening up a few of the usual ingredients, like using low-fat milk and stock instead of heavy cream or cream cheese, and reducing the amount of butter with olive oil. Trust me, this lighter version leaves nothing to be desired.
“Skinny” Mushroom Alfredo for One
I LOVE lemon sauce with pasta. Don’t get me wrong—a thick, zesty marinara is always good. But this lemon sauce is to die for. Tart, herbaceous, and nutty. Feel free to toss in your favorite protein or serve alongside a simple veggie, like the blanched haricot verts pictured here.
Nothing says comfort food quite like a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. This recipe is a lightened-up take on this classic dish—a sneaky way to boost your veggie intake and I promise you won’t be sacrificing that hearty, cheesy, gooey deliciousness of the real thing. And with one-pot cooking, clean-up will be a breeze!
One-Pot Butternut Squash “Mac and Cheese”
I never thought I’d see the day when a vegetable could pass for an acceptable pasta substitute. I was skeptical of the many spaghetti squash recipes I saw on cooking shows, but after finally experimenting with one per my New Years’ Resolution to eat fewer carbs, I was shocked—it’s pretty darn close to spaghetti! In my carb-favoring opinion, the “spaghetti” has a surprisingly firm texture and a subtly sweet and nutty flavor that I don’t mind at all. Plus, one squash yields a TON of “spaghetti,” and at only 30 calories per 1 cup serving, there is zero-guilt in devouring the whole plate.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara With Grape Tomato Bruschetta
When I think of classic comfort food, I think of Mom’s Sunday night spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. I’m talking about meatballs and sausage made with love that have been simmering in homemade gravy ALL DAY…yum! But let’s be honest: it’s a Tuesday night, you had a long day, and you want a nice plate of meaty spaghetti PRONTO. Well, here’s my short-cut to a super flavorful, comforting spaghetti dish. The trick to faking that simmering-all-day goodness is cooking the sausage in the same pot as your gravy.
Spaghetti With Spicy Sausage Gravy
OK, so you overindulged this Thanksgiving weekend – everybody, just calm down. For a light and satisfying transition back into normal eating, try this super colorful, super easy, and super flavorful pasta dish packed with veggies and lean protein. Psst…there’s a hidden serving of veggies if you use the veggie-based pasta (per 4-oz portion).
Very Veggie Pasta
Few things marry as well as bacon, egg, and cheese. In Italian, carbonara describes any sauce made with egg, cheese, pepper, and some kind of cured meat, whether it be bacon, Pancetta, or ham. For this recipe, we’re using Pancetta, an Italian cured pork belly that tastes very similar to your typical bacon. It’s a super simple, easy recipe that packs a powerful punch of flavor and comfort—the warm, cheesy saucy kind. This is definitely the type of pasta you indulge in sparingly, but when you do, savor every bite.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta
For me, spaghetti and meatballs is one of those classic comfort dishes that mom used to make every Sunday with the whole family. Anyone else get those nostalgia cravings? For this recipe, I was inspired by my mom’s classic meatballs and put a few twists on her marinara sauce: the addition of base veggies and a little heat really takes this marinara to a new level of deliciousness. Enjoy!
Fall-Apart Beef Meatballs With Spicy Marinara Sauce
This dish is a perfect marriage of sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, officiated by good ole’ soul-satisfying pasta. For this recipe, I have to send a special shout out to Trader Joe’s for providing the fresh butternut squash ravioli. Trader Joe’s fresh pastas are inexpensive, flavorful on their own, and cook within 3-4 minutes: what more could you possibly want for getting a quick, tasty dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes? But if you’re really feeling ambitious, may I suggest that you pair this sauce with my recipe for homemade butternut squash stuffed shells?
Butternut Squash Ravioli With Pistachio-Parmesan Butter Sauce
I’ve never cooked with Mascarpone cheese before, thinking that it was only used for Italian desserts, like a nice Tiramisu. But when I came across a few recipes using it in savory sauces, I had to give it a try. I’m happy to report that it was a success! Compared to cream cheese or heavy cream, Mascarpone is less dense and less sweet, and it emulsifies much easier than butter. With the spice of the sausage and the creaminess of the white beans, the pan gravy perfectly ties this dish together. Throw in a little pasta to soak up all that deliciousness, and you’re all set, in less than a half-hour.
Campanelle With White Beans, Spicy Sausage, and Mascarpone Pan Gravy