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Pasta fits today's busy lifestyles. It is quick to cook, low fat, inexpensive, and can be served with an almost endless variety of toppings and fillings. From cold pasta salads to warm main dishes, pasta helps satisfy our need for healthy and nutritious meals.

Pasta means paste

Most pasta starts with a paste of wheat flour and water. Except for egg noodles, pasta does not contain eggs; the creamy golden color comes from the durum wheat that is used.

A 1 cup serving of cooked pasta contains 190 calories, about 1 gram of fat, and no cholesterol. A complex carbohydrate, pasta is a good source of protein as well as many B vitamins and iron.

Take a tip from the Italians when cooking pasta; cook it until it is al dente, which means "to the tooth." In other words, pasta is done when it is firm and chewy. Cooking pasta past this stage does not mean that you are a bad cook and cannot serve the pasta. Al dente pasta will provide more "chewing" pleasure and add more interesting texture to the meal.

To serve the pasta al dente, it should be removed from the pot before that stage as it continues to cook somewhat out of the boiling water. Also consider how the pasta will be used. If the noodles are to be cooked after they are boiled, as in lasagna or stir-fried with vegetables, then they should be quite firm when they are removed from the water. When cooking dried noodles from the grocery, read the package directions, and begin tasting the noodles at half the suggested cooking time.

Pasta vocabulary... the shape of things to come

Selecting the perfect pastas for your favorite sauce is an art and a preference, not a science. Choose what you like, the possibilities are unlimited! Here are some general guidelines to help you with your decisions.

Thick tubular shapes such as penne, ziti or mezzani go best with thick sauces that stick to the surface of the pasta.

Spiral, corkscrew and grooved pasta, such as fusilli, rotelle and rigatoni are best suited to smoother, slightly thinner sauces. The finer, more narrow pastas such as capellini or angel hair are best complimented by thinner, more delicate sauces. With over one hundred varieties of pasta shapes available, there are thousands of possible combinations.

Pastas names ending in ini, ina, iti, or elle suggest a smaller, thinner style of pasta, while oni describes a larger pasta shape. Rigati at the end of a name suggests a ridged or grooved pasta.

Short pastas

  • Bow ties - see farfalle
  • Cavatelli - This is a hollow shell with a rippled surface. It is good in soups.
  • Egg noodles - One of the most versatile forms of pasta, these are available in different widths. Noodles will stand alone or topped with a sauce. Great in soups, salads and casseroles.
  • Elbow macaroni - This shape is best known as the mainstay for macaroni and cheese dishes. They are available in many sizes. Macaroni works well in soups, casseroles and salads.
  • Farfalle (butterflies) - Commonly know as bowties. Combines well with vegetables and dressings for salads as well as a variety of sauces.
  • Gemelli (twins) - This pasta shape looks like two short pieces of spaghetti twisted together. Serve with a chunky sauce.
  • Mezzani - This is a 1-2 inch long smooth, tubular pasta.
  • Mostaccioli (small mustaches) - These are 2 inch medium sized tubules with diagonally cut ends. Serve with a thick or chunky sauce.
  • Orechiette (little ears) - This medium-sized, disk-shaped pasta goes well with olive oil based sauces, chunks or vegetables and light to medium textured sauces.
  • Penne' (quills) - These are narrow tubes about 2 inches, cut diagonally like a quill. Use with medium to thick sauces and for baked pasta casseroles.
  • Radiatore (radiator) - This short, fat pasta is ruffled and ridged. These are generally available in a variety of flavors.
  • Rigatoni - Grooved tubes, similar to penne.
  • Rotelle (small wheels)
  • Rotini - This corkscrew shaped pasta is good with creamy or chunky sauces.
  • Route (wagon wheels) - This pasta goes well with soups and salads. Use it with olive oil based or tomato based sauces. Chunks of meat or vegetables blend with this pasta well.
  • Tortellini (little twists) - These are filled with meat, cheese or sometimes pureed vegetables. They are sold fresh, frozen and dried. Use them in salads, soups and with light sauces.
  • Ziti (bridegrooms) - This tubular macaroni is either straight or slightly curved. It is often cut in short pieces but can also be very long. Ziti is often used in rich meaty dishes or combination salads.

Very short pastas

  • Alphabets - These small letters are perfect for soup or broth. Children may appreciate them as an alternative to potatoes.
  • Ancini pepe (peppercorns) - These are tiny pieces of cut spaghetti for serving in soup or broth.
  • Couscous - An import from North Africa, these tiny beads of pasta cook almost instantly. Couscous is made of semolina wheat flour mixed with water which has been pushed through a sieve to make fine grains. The texture is light and fluffy. Perfect for salads and as a side for vegetables, beef or chicken.
  • Ditali (thimbles) - The same size and shape as a thimble, but with both ends chopped off. Ditalini is a smaller version of ditali and is easier to find in supermarkets. Used in soups and as a side dish with tomato sauces.
  • Orzo - This rice shaped pasta is good in soups or as a combination side dish. Blends well with almost any sauce.
  • Stellini (little stars) - This tiny star-shaped pasta is best in broth or other light soup. Children may like stars served with margarine or butter and a little salt.
  • Tripolini (little bows) - These are small, rounded bow ties. Use in soup or as a side dish.

Spaghetti family

  • Angel hair - See capellini
  • Bucatini - This is a thick spaghetti with a narrow hole through the middle.
  • Capellini (fine hairs) - Also known as angel hair, these fine strands of pasta are best when served with light, delicate sauces.
  • Fusilli (twisted spaghetti) - This long, hollow, spiral-shaped pasta goes well with garlic and oil-based sauce. Use short fusilli in pasta salads, or with tomato based or cheese based sauces.
  • Periatelli - Similar to bucatini, but fatter.
  • Spaghettini (little lengths of cord) - This pasta is actually the same length as spaghetti, only thinner.
  • Vermicelli (little worms) - These are fine strands of spaghetti that are slightly thicker than capellini. They are sold straight or occasionally in coils.

Ribbon family

  • Fettuccine (small ribbons) - Widely available either fresh or dried; plain or flavored (such as spinach or tomato) this pasta shape ranges in size from 1/16 inch to 3 inches wide.
  • Linguine (little tongues) - Long and thin, this flat ribbon-like pasta goes well with delicately flavored sauces.
  • Pappardelle - This is a lasagna-style, wavy edge, ribbon pasta about 1/4 inches wide. It is made with eggs and therefore has its own distinctive flavor. Chicken and meat sauces, as well as tomato and cream-based sauces work well with this pasta.
  • Tagliatelle - Flat, long, and wider than fettucine. Tagliarini are narrow tagliatelle.

More pasta tips and terms

Stockpiling pasta is a great idea. The shelf life of good quality dried pasta is about three years. Keep the pasta sealed from air and moisture after opening to retain quality.

Cooking tips

How much to cook? Start with two to three ounces of pasta for each serving. Use this guide as a simple measure.

Package size Yield when cooked Servings:
Main dish
Side dish
8 ounces 4 cups 4 8
12 ounces 6 cups 6 6
16 ounces 8 cups 8 8

The pasta pantry

Make your transition to pasta perfection with a well stocked pantry of accompaniments. A few simple "magic ingredients" can transform even the most mundane of pastas into an exciting meal.

  • Dried herbs and spices: Oregano, basil and a variety of peppers add a distinctive flavor to pasta.
  • Canned broths or flavor bases are convenient and flavorful.
  • Canned and dried tomatoes: These come in all sizes and forms and will provide interesting textures and flavors to pasta.
  • Canned beans: These will add fiber, protein, interesting textures and colors to pasta, combined with your specialty sauces and herbs.
  • Garlic and onion: Why start with anything else? These provide a great start to almost any pasta dish.
  • Cheeses: Fresh Parmesan is a must for any Italian pasta dish. Dried, low fat varieties are also essential for the body of many pasta dishes. Feta cheese is great, tossed into pasta salads or combined with tomato based sauces.
  • Variety vinegars: From raspberry to balsamic, vinegars provide the basis for wonderful pasta salads.

Common questions

  • How much water should you use?
    The recommended amount of water is generally 3 quarts per 1/2 pound of pasta. Add pasta to boiling water and cook "al dente," or pliable but firm.
  • What is the quickest way to prepare pasta?
    Start with very hot water to speed up cooking time.
  • Should salt be added to water?
    Salt increases the boiling temperature of the water and promotes faster cooking of the pasta. The faster a pasta cooks the better the quality will be. Add salt to boiling water to shorten cooking time of pasta.
  • Can pasta be flavored during cooking?
    For immediate flavor, drop chopped or sliced garlic, onions or herbs into boiling water. Chicken broth can also be used to boil pasta. Broths can also be used to toss cooked pasta with, for added flavor.
  • How do you store cooked pasta?
    Refrigerate leftover pasta up to 4 days, or freeze it up to a month. Reheat pasta chilled or frozen by plunging it in boiling water until thoroughly heated. Drain and serve.


Alfredo Sauce    
A signature dish for some of the finest Italian restaurants, alfredo sauce is generally known for its great taste and high fat content. Try this version, just as tasty but without the fat.

1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. melted margarine or butter
1 1/3 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp. light or fat free cream cheese
1 cup fat free grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups hot cooked fettucine
2 tsp. chopped or dried parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, gradually add milk, using a wire whisk, blend until smooth. Cook 5-6 minutes or until slightly thickened, and bubbly. Stir in cream cheese, continue to cook 2 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until blended. Pour over hot cooked fettucine. Toss to coat.

Serves: 4
Calories: 240
Fat: 3 grams

  Roasted Pepper Pesto  
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (fat-free works well)
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. red bell peppers (about 4 large), roasted and peeled

Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of processor bowl occasionally. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Makes: 3 cups
Calories (per 1/4 cup): 48
Fat: 2.9 grams

    Summer Marinated Tomato Sauce
3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion or shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. spaghetti, cappelini, or other long noodle
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

Mix first 7 ingredients and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, shake dry, and toss in a large bowl with tomato mixture. Serve immediately. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves: 4
Calories: 166
Fat: Less than 2 grams

  Simple Pasta Sauce  
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. marjoram and/or rosemary, sage and thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or diced goat cheese*

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes, spices and broth. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked and juice is slightly reduced.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Place pasta on plate, add sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

*Other mild white cheeses which are suitable include yogurt and low fat fontina. While Parmesan is not generally a low fat cheeses, fat free varieties are now available. You may want to use fresh grated cheeses, sparingly, for added flavor.

Serves: 4
Calories: 102
Fat: 4 grams

Submitted by: Fran Bettinger

Chunky Vegetable Sauce    
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (red, yellow, and/or green pepper)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 zucchini squash, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp. dried basil (optional)
1/2 pound medium shells, penne, or rotini noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, romano, or feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, sauté first 5 ingredients in olive oil in a large pan for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add tomatoes and basil and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.

Serve sauce over pasta, topped with cheese.

Serves: 4
Calories: 300
Fat: 5 grams

  Linguine with Clam Sauce  
8 ounces uncooked linguine
2 (6 1/2 ounces) cans minced clams, undrained
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fat free works well)

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Drain clams, reserving fluid, set clams aside.

Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a medium saucepan until tender. Add clam liquid, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in clams, parsley, pepper and cheese. Heat thoroughly. Add clam mixture to linguine, tossing well. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Serves: 4
Calories: 299
Fat: 5.5 grams

    Pasta Perfection
Greens give this dish a traditional touch as well as a nutritional plus.

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or 1 tsp. prepared minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups kale or collard greens
2 cups cooked pasta (spiral pasta works great)
1/2 cup sharp cheese, low fat feta or cheddar work well

1/2 cup red pepper chopped
2 oz minced country ham

Brown garlic in oil in large skillet. Steam greens in broth for 5 minutes. Add pasta and greens to olive oil, add peppers if desired Cook in skillet over low heat 5 minutes. Garnish with cheese. Stir to melt.

Low sodium ham and cheese can be used to reduce the sodium content.

Serves: 4
Calories: 184
Fat: 4 grams

Chicken with Orzo Olé    
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup bell pepper,(yellow, red or green), chopped
4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken, cut in strips
1 cup diced tomatoes with garlic and onion or 1 cup chunky salsa
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup orzo

Prepare orzo according to package directions.

Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic and onion, sauté for 2 minutes or until slightly browned. Add pepper, continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add chicken to skillet, sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add salsa or tomatoes, brandy and cumin, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add prepared orzo, stirring to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes.

Serve with chunky fresh fruit and whole grain bread.

Serves: 4
Calories: 390
Fat: 4 grams

  Italian Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach  
2 cups farfalle (bowtie pasta)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fat free cup (bottled) sun dried tomato salad dressing
2 cups torn fresh spinach
1 cup torn radicchio
1-2 Tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 cup low fat or fat free feta cheese.

Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a microwave safe container, combine garlic, olive oil, salad dressing and vinegar. Heat until bubbling, about 1 minute.

Place spinach and radicchio in large bowl, add cooked pasta. Pour dressing mixture over all. Add pine nuts and feta cheese, toss to blend.

Serves: 4
Calories: 255
Fat: 3 grams

    Herbed Chicken Sauté
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh or frozen onions, chopped
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced diagonally in 1 inch strips
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped tomato
1 cup spinach leaves, torn in pieces
4 cups hot cooked fettucine (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan or feta cheese

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms, sauté 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, basil and pepper, sauté 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Add tomato and spinach, sauté 2 minutes. Serve over pasta; sprinkle with cheese.

Serves: 4
Calories: 395
Fat: 5.7 grams

  Chicken Marsala  
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. tarragon
dash salt
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs or low fat croutons
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 lb. (4 breasts) skinned, boned chicken breasts, sliced in strips
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups hot cooked pasta (angel hair works well)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stir with a whisk until blended. Spoon 1/4 cup of this mixture over chicken, Set remainder aside.

Combine crumbs or croutons, cheese, and garlic in shallow dish. Dredge chicken pieces in mixture.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, cook 3 minutes on each side until done.

Microwave wine mixture on high for 30 seconds, until slightly thickened, stirring once. Arrange chicken over pasta, pour wine sauce over all.

Serves: 4
Calories: 306
Fat: 6.7 grams

Creamy Chicken Manicotti    
8 manicotti shells
1 (10 3/4 oz) can low fat creamy chicken mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup commercial fat free sour cream
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 (4 oz. can) or 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp. margarine or butter, melted
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Cook manicotti shells according to package directions, drain shells, set aside.

Combine soup, sour cream and spices, stir well. Combine half of soup mixture and chicken, stir well. Set aside remaining soup mixture. Stuff manicotti shells with chicken mixture. Place in a greased 12 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.

Sauté onion in butter in a large skillet until tender; add mushrooms. Stir reserved soup mixture into mushroom mixture. Spoon over manicotti, bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Serves: 4
Calories: 316
Fat: 8.7 grams

  Pork and Asparagus Linguine  
1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 1/4 lbs. lean, boneless pork loin roast
vegetable cooking spray
1 Tbsp. margarine
4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/8 tsp. pepper
5 cups hot cooked linguine

Snap off ends of asparagus. Cut in l inch pieces. Drop asparagus into a saucepan of boiling water and return to a boil. Cook 3 minutes until crisp tender. Drain asparagus and set aside.

Cut pork into 1 inch strips. Coat a large pan with cooking spray and place over medium high heat until hot. Add pork and cook 7 minutes or until done. Drain well and set aside.

Melt margarine in saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle mushrooms with flour; stir well, and cook an additional minute. Gradually stir in milk, and cook 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add asparagus, pork, 1/4 cup cheese, nutmeg and pepper, stir well.

Serve pork mixture over linguine, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Serves: 5
Calories: 400
Fat: 9 grams

    Szechwan Pork with Asparagus
8 oz. pork loin, cut in strips:
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. grated or dried ginger
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh asparagus spears (5-6 spears)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in plastic container with lid. Shake to blend. Reserve all except two tablespoons of this mixture. Spoon the 2 tablespoons of mixture over pork pieces, stir to coat. Let marinate for at least five minutes. Dredge the pork in sesame seeds. Add oil to large skillet. Heat oil using medium high heat. Add pork, stir to brown. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and mushrooms to skillet, cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Add cornstarch to reserved juice mixture. Whisk with wire whisk or shake closed container to blend. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Stir with wooden spoon to coat. Cook for 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Spoon mixture over pasta.

For a hotter version of this dish add 1 tablespoon of Szechwan hot sauce with soy sauce over angel hair pasta.

Serves: 4
Calories: 273
Fat: 8 grams

  Sarah's Linguine with Spinach and Beans  
8 ounces linguine
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (10 oz.) package pre-washed spinach
1 (16 oz.) can small white beans, drained and rinsed
Freshly grated Parmesan, Asiago or other sharp cheese

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add linguine and salt.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a wide skillet. Add garlic and cook slightly. Add thyme and red pepper and spinach. Stir to wilt spinach. Add beans to the spinach, stir a few imes, allowing the mixture to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over cooked linguine and serve immediately with grated cheese.

Serves: 4
Calories: 355
Fat: 5 grams

Fettucine with Spinach    
2 bunches fresh spinach, about 2 lb., stemmed and cleaned
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped (2 Tbsp. minced)
1 small onion, chopped
12 oz. fettucine, cooked according to package directions
1 Tbsp. margarine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese (Parmesan may be used)

Heat margarine and oil in large wide skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes over medium heat. Add chopped spinach, a handful at a time, stirring over high heat to wilt. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg, to taste. When spinach is wilted, toss with drained noodles. Serve on plates, top with cheese.

Serves: 6
Calories: 179
Fat: 6 grams

Submitted by Margaret Williams

  Lasagna Primavera  
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1 (16 oz.) carton low fat or fat free ricotta or cottage cheese
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (8 oz.) package lasagna noodles
1 (8 oz.) package sliced low fat or fat free mozzarella cheese

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Combine eggs or egg substitute, ricotta or cottage cheese, spinach, carrot, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9x2 inch pan. Place lasagna noodles over sauce. Top noodles with vegetable-cheese mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers: sauce, noodles, vegetable-cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and finish with sauce. Top all with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Increase the fiber, flavor, and color of the lasagna with the addition of other vegetables to spinach/carrot mixture. Some suggestions: minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, chopped bell peppers. Layer thin slices of zucchini over lasagna noodles for another "ribbon" of color.

Serves: 8-10
Calories: 176
Fat: 3.9 grams

    Chicken Lasagna
2 Tbsp. butter, margarine or olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup mild white low fat cheese, mozzarella, fontina or yogurt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. lasagna noodles
1 cup fat free or low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
1/2 cup low fat or fat free Parmesan cheese

In microwave safe container melt margarine. Add garlic, whisk in flour. Add milk and broth. Microwave this mixture on high for 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring twice. Add mild white cheese, spices and chicken, stir to blend.

Spray 9x9 inch baking dish with vegetable spray. Beginning with sauce, followed by pasta, spinach, ricotta and Parmesan, make two layers. Bake at 350 degrees, for 35-40 minutes. Cover for half of cooking time.

Serves: 6-8
Calories: 390
Fat: 7 grams

  Teresa's Summer Couscous Salad  
1 medium cucumber, sliced and quartered into smaller pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups cooked Couscous

Mix vegetables together in bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix dressing using equal amounts of vinegar and water. Pour over vegetables to just barely cover vegetable mixture. Sprinkle sugar over all. Stir gently to mix. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Mix in Couscous. Chill before serving.

Serves: 4
Calories: 148
Fat: Less than 1 gram

  Chicken Pasta Salad  
2 cups cooked skinless chicken breast, chopped
4 cups cooked small macaroni shells
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 cup red pepper strips
6 oz. fresh snow peas, trimmed
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine first 6 ingredients and toss gently. In a small bowl or jar, mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently. Cover and chill before serving.

Serves: 6
Calories: 301
Fat: 7 grams

    Pasta Bean Salad
3 cups mushroom penne pasta, cooked
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2/3 cup vinegar
1 (16 oz..) can cut green beans
1 (16oz.) can cut wax beans
1 (16oz.) can red kidney beans
1 onion, sliced

Cook pasta according to directions on package, omit oil and salt. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, pepper and vinegar in skillet. Heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Drain and rinse beans, add to heated mixture. Add onion, pasta and stir well. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6
Calories: 258
Fat: Less than 1 gram

  Pasta Julienne Style  
6 cups Fusilli (spring pasta), cooked
1 pkg. Pesto sauce mix
2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, julienne cut
2 small yellow squash, julienne cut
2 small zucchini squash, julienne cut

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package, omit oil and salt. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Combine Pesto sauce mix, water and olive oil. Pour into heated skillet. When sauce is heated, add vegetables and stir. Cook until vegetables are just tender, less than 5 minutes. Pour vegetable mixture over pasta and toss. Can be served warm or chilled.

Serves: 6
Calories: 268
Fat: 5 grams

Mexican Pasta Siesta Style    
This recipe is quick and simple, but very tasty.

8 oz. spaghetti noodles
2 cups prepared salsa
1/2 cup fat free or reduced fat sour cream
black olives, chopped (optional)

Cook spaghetti according to directions on package. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Combine salsa and sour cream, pour over pasta and mix thoroughly. If desired top with olives.

The type of salsa (mild, medium, or hot) will determine the "spiciness" or "hotness" of this dish.

Serves: 6
Calories: 189
Fat: Less than 1 gram

  Mushroom & pea pasta salad  
16 oz. bowtie pasta, dry
1 cup fat free or reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup skim milk
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Combine sour cream, milk and dressing package. Rinse peas with hot water until thawed. Combine pasta, dressing mixture, peas and mushrooms. Chill and serve.

This is a great recipe to use for entertaining guests or take to a party since it makes a large amount. It can easily be cut down to serve a small family by reducing the amount of pasta, peas and mushrooms in half. Still make the dressing using the original recipe, but only add half to the pasta mixture. Save the rest for dipping vegetables.

Serves: 8
Calories: 291
Fat: 1 gram

    Celebration Salad
1 lb. medium sized shell pasta
1 small red onion, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese (Pecorino)
3/4 lb. boiled shrimp

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Toss with mayonnaise until coated, add onion and continue to mix. Sprinkle with cheese, add shrimp, continue to stir until all pasta is coated.

Serves: 8
Calories: 231
Fat: 3 grams

Submitted by: Leo Ciacao

  Farfalle and Crab Salad  
1 cup farfalle, cooked according to package directions
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. bottled, minced)
1 Tbsp. pine nuts
1 cup mushrooms or 1/2 portabello mushroom, sliced
1/2 cup cooked peas
1 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, with spices
celery flakes
1 cup fat free or low fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 cup crab delight

Sauté onion and garlic and pine nuts in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add with cooked peas and sun dried tomatoes to drained pasta, in large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together, pour over pasta. Add crab meat and stir to blend well. Chill.

Serves: 4
Calories: 300
Fat: 8.4 grams

Submitted by: Fran Bettinger

Upside Down Fruit Cakes    
2 fresh pears, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 box light yellow cake mix

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting applesauce for oil (if desired).

Spray 9 x 13 inch baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Slice pears evenly over bottom of pan. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over pears. Pour cake batter over fruit mixture. Bake according to package directions.

OPTIONAL: Drizzle fat-free caramel apple topping over warm cake.

Serves: 24
Calories: 99
Fat: 1.7 grams

  Strawberry Cake  
1 (10-12 oz.) pkg. frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed
1 box light yellow cake mix
3/4 cup plain, lemon or vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup applesauce
4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
1 (8 oz.) container fat free Cool whip

Spread strawberries evenly over bottom of 9 x 13 inch oiled cake pan. Prepare cake mix, using yogurt, water, egg whites, and applesauce. Mix according to package directions. Pour batter over strawberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with Cool whip.

Serves: 24
Calories: 120
Fat: 2 grams

    Fat Free Oatmeal Cookies
2 egg whites or 1 egg
1/2 cup sugar, brown or granulated
1/3 cup Karo syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal, (old fashioned or quick)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

In medium mixing bowl combine egg, sugar, syrup and vanilla, stirring to blend well. Add flour, oatmeal, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Drop by teaspoon onto oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

Makes: 2 dozen
Calories: 50
Fat: 1 gram