Super easy, super good, super nourishing. I’m talking about pasta here. That pasta you have in your pantry can be a part of a nourishing meal that you can feel good about bringing your family to the table for. And I’m not saying it always has to be whole grain. If you love whole grain pasta, great! If you don’t, great! Don’t stress about the whole grain factor in your pasta – instead, think about the delicious ingredients you can add to the pasta to make it satisfying and nourishing. I think the best way to do that is to create a power bowl. A power pasta bowl that is. Have you noticed all the power bowls online? Power breakfast bowls, power lunch bowls, well, today I’m bringing you a power dinner bowl. And it’s bound to bring people together here – just serve it up pasta bar style – it’s Italian Power Pasta Bowls.
Here’s the theme this month from The Recipe ReDux:
“Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious. Show us the healthy recipe that’s in your bowl.”
With a recent visit to Barilla Pasta Company, I was able to learn a little more about pasta – and I have to say, I was quite surprised about one thing – al dente pasta (still slightly firm) keeps you fuller longer. So set your timers when popping pasta in the boiling water (and don’t forget to add the salt to the water too for some great flavor) and note the time on the box to cook to al dente. It’s worth it!
One of the best things about pasta is it’s versatility. Just a couple of days ago, I spent the day preparing for a dinner party, and what did we have for dinner? A pasta bar! Homemade marinara sauce along with alfredo sauce and pesto sauce, toppings like Italian seasoned shrimp and chicken, sautéed vegetables, steamed broccoli, and of course, Parmesan cheese. Served with a hardy piece of garlic bread and fall harvest salad, it was a winning meal.
Keys to a Great Pasta Bar (Italian Power Pasta Bowls)
- Cooking your pasta to al dente and tossing it with a little olive oil and keeping it on warm in the crock pot works perfectly to hold while the guests arrive.
- Mini crock pots work well for holding sauces like marinara and alfredo without scorching them. Just keep on low heat.
- Keep your toppings in oven safe bowls covered in foil and you can keep them warm in the oven until guests arrive.
- Broil your shrimp with a bit of olive oil and Italian seasoning on high broil on a metal sheet pan for about 3 minutes – you will have perfectly cooked shrimp for a crowd.
- Mix and match your sauces together on the plate, there’s something great about homemade marinara with alfredo and a little pesto mixed in!
And guess what, when you have a dinner party where a pasta bar is served, the leftovers feed your family for days! I’ve done pasta bars for my family of four as well and it totally pays off. Everyone loves the customization factor where you become your own meal builder.
Here’s the Italian Power Pasta Bowl we created from our leftover pasta bar ingredients…
Leftovers can be delicious!
I encourage you to NOT throw your food away and instead reuse what you have to build a power bowl! The end result will be worth the minimal effort you put into it.
Check out the recipe to Italian Power Pasta Bowls:
- 5 chicken breasts, cooked and seasoned with Italian seasoning
- 60 small shrimp, deveined and tails removed, cooked with Italian seasoning
- 4-12 ounce boxes penne pasta
- 4 cups your favorite marinara sauce, meat added if desired
- 1 cup pesto sauce
- 3 cups alfredo sauce
- Assorted toppings: Cherry tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed zucchini slices, steamed broccoli, rinsed and drained chick peas tossed with pesto sauce, fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- Build pasta bowl with pasta and assorted toppings. Stir in your favorite sauce!