We eat almost as much pasta in my house as we do Mexican food.
Since I live with a picky five year-old, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh, it’s just like macaroni, but shaped different.” This kid will eat about anything if you call it macaroni.
The Tall Boy is a huge pasta fan, too. Any time I get desperate for menu-planning ideas and ask him to contribute, he always suggests either: A) spaghetti, or B) lasagna. Now, as much as I love lasagna, it’s not usually something I tackle for a “quick and easy” weeknight meal.
There are, however, a million different ways to use pasta as a quick and easy, low-cost, and healthy weeknight (or anytime) meal. Pasta easily fits into:
- Your Lifestyle – Pasta meals can be fast and easy to make on the go! Many pasta meals can be on the table in less than a half-hour making pasta an ideal ingredient for everyone; from moms on the run to college students in between classes.
- Your Budget – As of March 2012, on average pasta costs $1.45 per pound. Add lean meats and proteins to your pasta for a low budget meal that the whole family will love!
- Your Diet – With roughly 100 calories per half cup serving, very little sodium or fat and no cholesterol, pasta is an ideal foundation for building healthy meals. Pasta is a great delivery system for protein-packed veggies and lean meats.
And, leave it to me…even when making a pasta dish, I can find a way to put a Mexican spin on it. Although this dish was very light, it was heavy on flavor. Since we like plenty of heat in our meals, I left the seeds in the jalapeño and sautéd them along with the peppers and onions. If that’s not your thing, just leave ’em out. Or, go ahead and seed the jalapeño, and dice ’em up fine for some extra flavor and not a lot of heat. Also, you could easily substitute chicken for the steak in this recipe. Load up on the veggies, skip the shredded cheese, and you have a quick, easy, and healthy dinner.
- 1 pound medium pasta shape, such as penne
- 1 pound lean boneless top round steak
- 1¼ cup low-sodium tomato juice, divided
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 green and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 1 cup sliced red onion
- 1 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1-2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and sliced
- Slice steak diagonally across gran into ¼ inch strips. Place steak into a zip-lock bag. Add ½ cup tomato juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin and ground red pepper. Marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours.
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, remove steak from marinade. Discard marinade.
- Coat skillet with cooking spray, add oil, and place over high heat. Add stead and cook 3 minutes, or until done.
- Remove steak from skillet and tent under aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Recoat skillet with spray. Add peppers and onion, and saute until tender.
- Drain pasta and place in a large bowl. Add steak, pepper mix, sour cream, jalepeno, and remaining ¾ cup tomato juice.
And guess what? The National Pasta Association wants to offer one of my readers a pasta prize pack consisting of: Dreamfields® Spaghetti, Mueller’s® Whole Grain Spaghetti, Heartland® Gluten Free Wheat Free Penne, Ronzoni Healthy Harvest® Spaghetti, Ronzoni Garden Delight® Rotini, and an Ultragrain Pasta® Spaghetti Spoon.
Leave me a comment letting me know your favorite pasta dish, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Good luck, and happy cooking!
Disclaimer: The National Pasta Association provided me with samples of the various pastas described above, but all opinions are my own.