Eating healthier doesn’t mean you need to eliminate pasta from your diet. Instead, ensure your plate of pasta is packed with vitamins, minerals, and other good-for-you ingredients by topping it with a healthy sauce that’s filled with vegetables, fragrant seasonings, and fresh flavors. Give your noodles a nutritious and delicious makeover by preparing these seven healthy pasta sauce recipes.
1. Fresh Zucchini Pasta Sauce
Allrecipes’ simple and straightforward sauce recipe makes healthy eating a breeze. This nutritious dish contains zucchini, which is a good source of vitamin C, phytonutrients, and manganese, according to Livestrong. It yields 4 servings.
- 2 zucchini, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt, to taste
Directions: Mix zucchini and garlic together in a large bowl; stir in olive oil and salt. Set aside for flavors to blend, about 1 hour.
2. Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Butternut squash is the superstar of Martha Stewart’s sauce recipe, which yields 8 servings. A Demand Media article via SFGate states butternut squash contains vitamins A and C, fiber, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Putting this sauce on your pasta is the perfect way to get your daily vitamins and minerals!
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 1½ pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, peel on
- 1 cup half-and-half
- Pasta, for serving
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a large, sharp knife, trim ends; halve squash crosswise to separate bulb from neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and discard. Cut squash into 2-inch chunks and transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
Remove and discard skin from garlic. Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor and purée. With motor running, add half-and-half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water and continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary. Serve with desired toppings.
3. Eggplant Pasta Sauce
Eggplant, spices, peppers, olives, and tomatoes create a sauce that will give your plain pasta great flavor and plenty of nutrients. Anna Thomas’s recipe, which is in the cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure and can be found via Food.com, yields 8 servings. Care 2 notes eggplant is a rich source of iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin K, and phytonutrients.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and chopped (about 1 pound)
- 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 3 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- ¾ cup black olives, sliced
- 4 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ to 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 12 ounces tomato paste
- 2 cups dry white wine or 2 cups vegetable broth, more if needed
Directions: Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add eggplant and bell peppers. Stir to coat, then add tomatoes, olives, and capers. Add all remaining ingredients, stir, and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add more wine or water as needed. Serve over pasta.
4. Spicy Carrot Pasta Sauce
Add vitamins, minerals, and zesty flavors to your pasta by preparing The Dinner Concierge’s recipe for spicy carrot pasta sauce, which was adapted from Lady and Pups. The carrots in this superb sauce are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc, according to Medical News Today.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ (1.75-ounce) tube of anchovy paste
- 3 to 4 medium-size carrots, peeled and diced
- 5 red jalapeños, roughly diced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chicken stock, plus another ½ cup
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- ½ teaspoon champagne vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions: In a large pot set over medium high, melt butter and anchovy paste together. Add carrots, jalapeño, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup chicken stock and let reduce until almost all evaporated and carrots are soft.
Turn off the heat, add the other ½ cup of chicken stock, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits from the pan. Transfer to a blender and add cream, garlic, mustard, honey, vinegar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Serve or keep stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
5. Fresh Tomato Sauce
There’s no need buy store-bought sauce when you can prepare a homemade, healthier version instead. Eating Well’s recipe, which yields 2 quarts, gets its great flavor from tomatoes, garlic, onions, oregano, red wine, and basil.
- 4½ pounds plum tomatoes
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped garlic, about 2 heads
- 4 cups diced onions (3 to 4 medium)
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Using a sharp paring knife, core the tomatoes and score a small X into the flesh on the bottom. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water in batches, until the skins are slightly loosened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice water and let sit in the water for 1 minute before removing.
Place a sieve over a bowl; working over it, peel the tomatoes using a paring knife, and let the skins fall into the sieve. Halve the tomatoes crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a hooked finger, letting the sieve catch the seeds. Press on the seeds and skins to extract any extra juice. Coarsely chop the peeled tomatoes and set aside. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just beginning to color, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add onions and salt. Stir to coat, then cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning, until soft and turning golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste is beginning to brown on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour in wine and vinegar; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a spoon. Cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and any juice; return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil and pepper. Transfer the sauce, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Process until desired consistency. For a smooth sauce, purée it all. For a chunky sauce, purée just half and mix it back into the rest of the sauce.
6. Spinach Pesto Sauce
About Food delivers a sensational sauce that contains fresh spinach, garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Not only does this sauce taste terrific, but it’s also packed with nutrients. Men’s Fitness notes spinach promotes healthy eyesight, plays a role in bone health, and is a great source of iron.
- 4 cups (16 to 24 ounces) washed, torn spinach leaves, stems removed, well-packed
- 3 garlic cloves, halved
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ teaspoon dried leaf basil, crumbled
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Directions: Place a few spinach leaves, garlic, pine nuts, basil, and a little oil in blender or food processor container. Cover and purée until leaves begin to look crushed. Continue adding spinach leaves a few at a time with small amounts of oil to blender, using a rubber spatula to help to combine puréed mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Cover and process until spinach pesto mixture is smooth.
7. Wild Mushroom Pasta Sauce
Best Health writes mushrooms are a great source of selenium, iron, vitamin D, and immune-boosting antioxidants. Filled with rich and creamy flavors, The Kitchn’s wild mushroom pasta sauce is a great addition to any pasta dinner. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- 1 (1½-ounce) package wild mushrooms
- 1 cup chicken, vegetable, or beef broth, boiling
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 (8-ounce) packages of white button or portobello mushrooms, washed and chopped
- 4 large shallots, minced
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped sage
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Directions: Crumble the dried mushrooms into a glass bowl or measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms from liquid, then combine soaking liquid with the wine.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add button or portobello mushrooms and let sit, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes, until browned. Stir and let them cook on the other side, for about 4 minutes longer. Add the shallots, garlic, sage, and steeped wild mushrooms. Turn the heat to low and cook until they are all fragrant and soft. Add the second tablespoon of butter, let melt, then add flour. Stir rapidly as it cooks for about 1 minute.
While whisking, slowly pour in the mushroom broth and white wine. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until the mixture thickens. It should thicken to the consistency of a thick gravy. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in parsley. Serve immediately over pasta with plenty of Parmesan cheese over the top.