Pasta night doesn't have to be indulgent — in fact, any plate of spaghetti can be part of a nutritious, balanced and delicious diet. With the help of these healthy pasta sauce recipes, you can satisfy your next craving for carbs and hit your health goals all in one delicious bowl of herby pesto or classic marinara.
The key to any nutritious pasta sauce is a good base of veggies — think spaghetti loaded with roasted vegetables (cauliflower! broccoli! onions!) or penne packed with fresh herbs, in-season tomatoes or heaps of leafy greens. Try lasagna layered with protein-rich cashew cream or traditional tomato sauce loaded with light, flavorful ingredients like fennel, capers, olives and more. Topped with a filling protein like creamy white beans, lean chicken or any number of meatball recipes, pasta can be a perfectly balanced plate of protein, veggies, healthy fats and carbs.
Looking to ramp up the nutritional value of dinner even more? According to a GH nutritionist, the healthiest ways to eat pasta include enjoying whole-wheat pasta (which boasts a heartier, nuttier flavor than traditional pasta) or trying bean- and legume-based noodles. You can also break out your spiralizer to try vegetable-based "pastas" (hello, zoodles!) that offer a low-cal alternative. Many of these recipes adhere to nutritionist recommendations, like doubling up on the veggie serving and cutting the pasta by a half or third. Grab a fork, because it's pasta for dinner tonight!
Amp up this simple recipe with anchovies, capers, garlic and fresh lemon juice. Dinner in under 30 minutes!
This hearty dish uses meaty mushrooms and protein-rich lentils to beef up a completely plant-based dinner.
When tomatoes are in peak season, there's no need to cook them for max flavor.
Blended with garlic, walnuts and olive oil, this pesto is a simple and delicious sauce for any pasta.
This plant-based pick ditches the usual ricotta or butter-based béchamel found in typical lasagna recipes. Instead, it uses an easy cashew cream that's just as delicious as the real thing.
Juicy tomatoes, salty anchovies and fiery red chiles add a ton of flavor to this sauce — without a ton of added calories.
Raw zucchini gets “cooked” when added to the hot pasta for a veggie-based sauce in seconds.
Instead of a hearty tomato-based sauce, this simple pasta gets tossed in a light broth with plenty of lemon and spicy red pepper flakes.
Not only is this genius recipe made entirely in one pot, but the simple sauce is packed with a full cup of basil!
By weight, there are more veggies than pasta in this dish. Yes, please!
Romesco is a Spanish roasted red pepper sauce made with blended nuts, herbs and a splash of vinegar for bright flavor. Serve it over pasta!
Alfredo without butter or cream? It's possible. This pick sneaks in cauliflower as a tasty, creamy substitute.