Here’s the key to a healthy pasta dish: Don’t focus on the pasta.
Make the star ingredients veggies or protein, and toss in a little pasta along the way, as opposed to the other way around. For this dish, my star ingredients are two vegetables, and you’ll be shocked at how little pasta is actually used.
This is the second consecutive recipe post featuring asparagus, because…. ’tis the season! Check out my recipe for Asparagus and Sugar Snap Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette HERE.
Here’s my recipe for Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Pasta with Creamy Mustard Sauce.
Start with one bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 2″ pieces. (My bunch yielded 10 ounces of asparagus, if you’re the measuring sort.)
You’ll also need 1 pound mushrooms, chopped into bite sized pieces. You may have to halve or quarter the mushrooms depending on the size. You want all the pieces roughly the same size, so they cook evenly. And if 1 pound seems like a lot of mushrooms, it is. But they’ll cook down a lot.
You’re going to saute the asparagus and mushrooms together in a big skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil, until everything is tender.
Meanwhile, measure out exactly one serving of pasta. That’s it. One serving. According to the box for my pasta, one serving was 50 grams, so I weighed out exactly 50 grams.
Boil the pasta, following the directions on the box, then drain and set aside.
You can also start making the creamy mushroom sauce too! Start with 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (whatever you have around). Put it in a small saucepan over low heat. You’re going to simmer it for 10 minutes or so, until it reduces down to 1/2 cup.
I added 1 pinch of saffron at the start, but that’s totally optional.
Once it’s reduced, take it off the heat and stir in:
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Be sure to take it off the heat before adding these ingredients! The first time I experimented with this, I left the pot on the heat, and the yogurt curdled, and I had to toss it. (Thanks to my friend Mike, a culinary school graduate and restaurant executive, who helped identify what I did wrong.) If you must return it to the heat, because the other components of the meal aren’t ready or something, keep it on low low low heat.
And you’re basically done. Throw the cooked veggies in the bottom of a big bowl, add the pasta on top, and pour the sauce on top.
And voila! Dinner is served.
If you think a mustard sauce sounds a little weird with pasta, well, I don’t blame you. I thought that too. But mustard goes great with vegetables, and pasta is pretty much a blank canvas, and this is a really delicious dish. The sauce feels creamy and decadent, and it’s completely guilt-free.
Oh, I garnished the bowl with 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese, because, you know, pasta.
This dish is very satisfying, between the sauce, the different veggie textures, and just a bit of pasta to make it seem indulgent. And it’s pretty versatile: you could add chicken or salmon, or whatever veggies you have lying around, to bulk it up.
And here’s the best part: The entire recipe – ALL OF IT – has 576 calories. So if you split it between two people as a main entree, each person is only eating 288 calories. If you split it between 4 people as a smaller side dish, that’s only 144 calories.
In addition to the 576 calories, the entire recipe has 9 grams of fat and 80 grams of carbs – so you can do the math depending on how many people are eating it.
The one that surprised me is the protein: the entire recipe has a whopping 50 grams – pretty good for a vegetarian dish! (Provided you use veggie stock.) Nearly half of that protein comes from the mushrooms and asparagus, oddly enough.
So if you’re trying to manage your calories and carbs, and get some good protein, too, this recipe is the way to go!
Keep it up, David!
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