Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP Before you even assemble your ingredients, fill a large pot three-quarters of the way with water and bring it to a boil.
Pair any of these pasta dishes with a salad to make a complete meal.
FARFALLE WITH SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, KALE AND WALNUTS
1 pound peeled butternut squash in 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Pinch each ground nutmeg and cinnamon
1 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
8 ounces mixed or whole-grain farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
4 ounces torn kale leaves (6 cups)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
2. Toss squash with 2 teaspoons of oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon. Spread cubes out on half of the baking sheet pan. Toss sliced onion with 1 teaspoon of oil and spread it out on other end of sheet pan. Place in oven for 10 minutes, toss and roast another 5 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender and onions cooked through. Push onions over the clear space in center of pan; place walnuts there in a single layer and return to oven for 1 to 2 minutes, until walnuts are very lightly browned and aromatic.
3. While vegetables roast, cook pasta. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook 5 minutes. Add kale and cook another 5 minutes, or until pasta is al dente (check package directions). Drain and toss with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and grated Pecorino Romano. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 559 calories, 21 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 26 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 518 mg sodium
8 ounces mixed or whole-grain penne or ziti
8 ounces spicy Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine (or low-sodium chicken broth)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. (Check package directions). Drain but do not rinse.
3. Squeeze sausage out of its casings into large nonstick skillet; add onion and garlic and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring to break up sausage into crumbles, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, wine, tomatoes and basil and bring to boil. Immediately reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken.
4. Toss pasta with sauce, Parmesan and half the mozzarella; transfer to baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake until the cheese on top is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 438 calories, 30 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 879 mg sodium
SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
8 ounces mixed or whole-grain spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Combine sirloin, onion and garlic in Dutch oven or skillet; cook over medium heat, breaking meat up into crumbles. When meat is no longer pink, add wine, diced tomato, crushed tomato, oregano, thyme and nutmeg to skillet. Simmer 15 minutes, until sauce is somewhat thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and toss with sauce; serve topped with cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 473 calories, 37 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 530 mg sodium