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My family and I sometimes joke that we were Italian in a previous life. Both my mom, myself and my son have a huge infatuation with pasta, good olive oil and parmesan. My mom apparently used to gobble down massive platefuls of pasta when she was pregnant with me, and I think I must have inherited my love of good pasta in the womb. To this day, my favourite meal is a delicious veggie stuffed pasta and fresh salad. My son? Along with devouring pasta up by the bowlful, K insists on freshly grated parmesan (seriously, it’s a must for him), and I’m pretty sure he could eat his weight in gelato.
While my mom has visited Italy (and fallen in love with the country), we have yet to do so as a family. I hope we can one day travel there together and show K what fresh Italian pasta tastes like and eat our way in gelato around the country. For now, we’re creating delicious pasta dishes right in our home, some times putting on Italian music and pretending we’re sitting at a little Italian cafe.
Since pasta is a super simple dish that can be made a countless number of ways, it’s perfect for busy families. It’s also a good way to sneak in some hearty vegetables, nutrients and greens. This Healthy Green Machine Pasta dish is one of our favourite ways to eat pasta, especially in the spring when asparagus is local. It’s also an awesome green vegetarian meal idea for St. Patrick’s Day. Our green pasta dish combines asparagus, spinach and peas, with a simple olive oil, lemon and parmesan dressing. We then topped it with sliced avocados, an amazing source of healthy fats and omegas. It’s also super duper easy to make, and K gobbled it up like there was no tomorrow. I love using a good whole grain pasta for this dish, and I was happy to see that the Catelli Healthy Harvest whole grain brand was on sale at our local Shoppers Drug Mart. I love that this pasta is made with 100% Canadian wheat and has no preservatives or sodium, both of which are very important to us.
I know, Shoppers Drug Mart isn’t your typical “food” store, but I’ve seriously been finding some awesome deals on not only household and toiletry items, but also food. Our local Shoppers is big and awesome and I love being able to grab things like pasta (in the aisle with pasta, sauces and other boxed items), snacks and lunch stuff for K, especially when I’m in a rush.
If you’re having this dish sans kids, slow down and enjoy it with your favourite glass of red wine, just like the Italians do!
Green Machine Pasta
- 1 package (375 grams) Pasta of your choice – I used Catelli Whole Grain Penne (penne or fusilli would work best)
- 1 pound Asparagus, trimmed
- 1 cup fresh Spinach
- 1 cup Peas (frozen, fresh or canned – frozen or fresh are best)
- 1 Avocado
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1 large Lemon, juiced (approximately 4 tablespoons)
- 1 large Garlic Clove, grated or minced
- fresh ground Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and trim the asparagus, line on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. When finished, take out and set aside. Once cooled, chop into bite sized pieces.
- If you are using frozen peas, measure out a cup and let thaw on the counter.
- Chop the spinach, removing the ends as well. Don’t worry about making the pieces really small as they will shrink a lot at the end.
- In the meantime, cook your pasta according to directions, until it is al dente.
- Drain the pasta and immediately return to the pot, keeping the burner at very low heat. Add the spinach and stir in completely until it is all wilted in and well mixed. Add the peas (you might need to defrost these in warm water or the microwave beforehand if they are still frozen). Lastly, add the chopped asparagus. Transfer the pasta mixture to a large bowl and mix well.
- To make the sauce, add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well. Adjust the freshly ground pepper according to your tastes.
- Add the sauce to the pasta mixture and mix well. Serve pasta and top with freshly sliced avocado. You can also mix small chunks of avocado into the pasta if you prefer, or omit the avocado altogether if it’s not your thing.
I’d love to hear your favourite way to enjoy pasta, either as a family or even just alone. Let me know!
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