17 Healthy Pasta Dinners to Satisfy Your Craving

From spaghetti and meatballs to buttery scampi, we’ve got recipes for all your favorites.

January 09, 2023

Photo By: Tara Donne © Tara Donne

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Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Food Network, Television Food Network, G.P.

Healthy Pastas You'll Love

When you’re looking for a healthy weeknight dinner it goes without saying that you need something satisfying—that’s ready fast. Pasta fits the bill, except that it can sometimes be loaded up with fat-ladened sauces or excessive amounts of cheese, making it a no-go for certain diets and wellness plans. That’s where these delicious recipes come in. They’re full of smart swaps to cut back on the things you don’t want—and every bit as filling as traditional versions. Just take this spaghetti and meatballs, for example. Some of the ground beef is replaced with Portobello mushrooms and egg whites to help cut fat, without sacrificing flavor. Serve with whole-wheat spaghetti for a hearty, wholesome meal that everyone will enjoy.

Get the Recipe: Lighter Spaghetti and Meatballs

Anne's Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Combining pistachios, broccoli rabe and part-skim ricotta makes for an earthy pasta dish that isn't overly decadent.

Get the Recipe: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Zucchini "Fettuccine" With Tomato Sauce

There may not be a strand of spaghetti in this recipe, but thin strands of zucchini are a pretty convincing stand-in.

Get the Recipe: Zucchini "Fettuccine" With Tomato Sauce

Lightened-Up Shrimp Scampi

Adding crushed multi-grain croutons brings an unexpected crunch to this lemony shrimp scampi.

Get the Recipe: Lightened-Up Shrimp Scampi

Fettuccine Alfredo

This fettuccine Alfredo isn't just cream, butter and pasta. Instead, its whole-wheat strands are studded with cauliflower and peas.

Get the Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo

Capellini With Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce

Combine thin strands of pasta with a quick zucchini-loaded tomato sauce for a hearty dinner that's ready in less than 40 minutes.

Get the Recipe: Capellini With Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Lemon, Basil, and Salmon

Giada prefers whole-wheat spaghetti for its nutty flavor; she loads it up with fresh vegetables and fish flavored with lemon and herbs for a light, healthy meal.

Get the Recipe: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon

Zucchini Ribbon Pasta

Ellie slices zucchini to mimic the shape of pasta -- doing so makes for a big bowl of pasta that's actually half vegetables.

Get the Recipe: Zucchini Ribbon Pasta

Ribbony Shrimp and Pasta Scampi

Medium-size shrimp are the perfect size for a twirl of spaghetti shot through with ribbons of squash. Have vegetarians at the table? Omit the shrimp, double the tomatoes and serve with a spoonful of part-skim ricotta cheese on top.

Get the Recipe: Ribbony Shrimp and Pasta Scampi

Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

Ellie makes a quick roasted red pepper sauce in a food processor for topping fettuccini -- the sauce gets its velvety texture from broth and a bit of feta; there's no cream added.

Get the Recipe: Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

BLT Pasta Skillet

This dish incorporates the best parts of a BLT without all those calories. Whole wheat pasta adds wholesome flavor, as well as extra fiber and protein.

Get the Recipe: BLT Pasta Skillet

Broccoli-Walnut Pesto with Pasta

Low in cholesterol and high in vitamins, broccoli packs this pesto with extra nutritional value. Using walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts is less expensive, subtracts calories and adds fiber. Serve over whole wheat pasta, or try brown rice pasta for a gluten-free option.

Get the Recipe: Broccoli-Walnut Pesto With Pasta

Sicilian-Style Cauliflower with Whole Wheat Pasta

Tossed with raisins, pine nuts and capers, this flavorful pasta makes a perfect vegetarian main course.

Get the Recipe: Sicilian-Style Cauliflower with Whole Wheat Pasta

Lemon Whole-Grain Linguine with Turkey Meatballs

The meatballs are the star of this comforting, high-fiber dish. Make them on their own and serve as a mini appetizer or add them to your favorite pasta recipe. For moister, more flavorful meatballs, be sure to use ground turkey, not ground turkey breast.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Whole-Grain Linguine with Turkey Meatballs

Penne a la Vodka

You save big on fat here by replacing some of the cream with 2-percent Greek yogurt, which provides the same creaminess and richness as a full-fat version.

Get the Recipe: Lightened-Up Penne a la Vodka

Lemon Herb Chicken Pasta with Green Peas, Snap Peas and Spinach

Chef, personal trainer and former NFL player Eddie Jackson shares his recipe for a light and lemony chicken pasta dish that's packed with fresh green veggies and herbs.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Herb Chicken Pasta with Green Peas, Snap Peas and Spinach

Lentil and Orzo Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Chard and Herbs

Eddie Jackson's orzo pasta salad is a celebration of color and texture, including roasted cauliflower, earthy red chard, sweet cherry tomatoes, briny green olives, bright citrus and a trio of fresh herbs.

Get the Recipe: Lentil and Orzo Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Chard and Herbs