In their new cookbook “Healthy Pasta,” co-authors Joseph Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali dish the skinny on how to enjoy pasta dishes that are healthy and flavourful.

Using inventive ways of combining ingredients, the brother and sister have achieved a collection of 100 recipes clocking in at under 500 calories per serving.

“We originally thought we were going to do it for 400 calories a portion, but it wasn’t tasty enough,” Manuali says.

Her best tip: Start with authentic real food and add ingredients that are high in flavour and low in fat.

“We wanted to stimulate people to have pasta three or four times a week but the right way, the healthy way. This is about having a plate of pasta that’s a meal that is going to satisfy you.”

Many of the recipes don’t take long to make, especially those with skillet-based sauces. For baked dishes, save time by doing some of the prep the night before, such as roasting vegetables.

“Eating healthy doesn’t mean there’s going to be a two-hour cooking process. I feel like there’s a misconception about that, that eating healthy food takes a lot of preparation and you have to go to the grocery story to do it,” says Manuali.

“There are dishes in (the book) that are canned tomatoes, capers and anchovies and it’s healthy and delicious and fast.”

And you can have all those ingredients on hand in your pantry.

Here are three recipes from the book to try at home:


Breakfast Pasta Frittata. Serve this frittata for breakfast or brunch, with a side of roasted potatoes and some fresh fruit.

Breakfast Pasta Frittata. Serve this frittata for breakfast or brunch, with a side of roasted potatoes and some fresh fruit. [THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Appetite by Random House]

One of Manuali’s favourite recipes is this super easy frittata with turkey sausage. “It’s so delicious and yummy.”

Ideally, use pasta left over from the day before to speed preparation. “So now you’re scrambling eggs and throwing in a little bit of sausage and the pasta and the onion and how long can that take, 15 minutes?” she says.

Calories per serving: 383

45 ml (3 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

250 g (8 oz) turkey breakfast sausage links, removed from casings

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced

500 ml (2 cups) chopped scallions

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 large eggs

5 large egg whites

75 ml (1/3 cup) nonfat milk

250 ml (1 cup) fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly grated mild cheddar cheese

50 ml (1/4 cup) freshly grated Grana Padano

250 g (8 oz) spaghetti or other long pasta, cooked and cooled

Preheat broiler.

In a medium nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat, add 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the olive oil. When oil is hot, add sausage and cook and crumble with a fork until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a small bowl. Add bell pepper to skillet and cook until almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add scallions and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Scrape sausage back into pan and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites and milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in parsley, cheddar and Grana Padano, reserving 15 ml (1 tbsp) of each cheese for the top of the frittata.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add remaining 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil. Add spaghetti to the sausage and vegetables and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spaghetti is golden in places, about 3 minutes. Pour in egg mixture and let cook until the bottom is set, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle top with remaining 30 ml (2 tbsp) grated cheese. Broil until top is golden but not dry or wrinkly and frittata is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, but watch carefully — all broilers are different. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then slide onto a cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.


This is a luxurious dish for the calorie count, which is close to 500 because it includes a roux (with flour and fat) and mozzarella, says Manuali. The white sauce is a lower-calorie and lower-fat version of the classic besciamella.

The combination of mushrooms and butternut squash is well suited for fall, but you can substitute other roasted vegetables according to the season.

Calories per serving: 494

500 g (1 lb) mixed mushrooms (such as button, cremini, shiitake, oyster, chanterelle or porcini), thickly sliced (about 1.5 l/6 cups)

15 ml (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) cubes (about 750 ml/3 cups)

15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme leaves

30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

45 ml (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour

500 ml (2 cups) 1 per cent low-fat milk

250 ml (1 cup) low-sodium chicken broth

1 fresh bay leaf

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

500 g (1 lb) rigatoni

250 ml (1 cup) shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella

50 ml (1/4 cup) freshly grated Grana Padano

Preheat oven to 230 C (450 F) with two sheet pans on the top and bottom racks.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.

In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with 7 ml (1/2 tbsp) of the olive oil and season with salt. Spread on one of the preheated pans. Repeat with squash and remaining olive oil and season with salt and thyme. Spread on second sheet pan and roast both until browned and tender, stirring and switching pans from top to bottom halfway through cooking time, about 20 minutes in all.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. When butter is melted, whisk in flour to make a smooth paste. Let cook for 2 minutes to remove raw flour smell, then whisk in milk and chicken broth. Add bay leaf and nutmeg and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Add rigatoni to boiling water. When pasta is very al dente, several minutes shy of the package cooking time, drain and rinse. In a small bowl, toss mozzarella and Grana Padano together. In a large bowl, combine pasta, white sauce and roasted vegetables and season with salt. Toss to coat pasta with sauce.

Pour into a 33-by-23-cm (13-by-9-inch) ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbly on edges and top is browned, 15 to 17 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.


This aromatic and flavourful dish is ideal for spring with its mint and new sweet peas, says Manuali.

Any other time of year, frozen baby peas can be substituted. Rinse peas to remove some of the sodium that may have been added during the freezing process. Because peas are starchy, this pesto comes out thicker than most, so you might need to add a little more pasta water than usual when dressing the pasta.

Calories per serving: 455

1 box (285 g/10 oz) frozen peas or 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) fresh shelled peas

250 ml (1 cup) loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves

250 ml (1 cup) loosely packed fresh mint leaves

45 ml (3 tbsp) pine nuts, toasted

1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled

50 ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly grated Grana Padano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

500 g (1 lb) gemelli

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil for peas. Prepare a medium bowl with ice water for peas.

When water is boiling, add peas to small saucepan and blanch until just tender, about 3 minutes for frozen, 5 minutes for fresh. Drain and plunge directly into ice water to cool and preserve bright green colour. Drain and pat dry.

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine peas, parsley, mint, pine nuts and garlic. Process to make a coarse paste, scraping down sides of work bowl. With machine running, pour in olive oil and process to make a smooth, thick pesto. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) pasta water and process again until smooth. Scrape pesto into a large serving bowl and stir in Grana Padano. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Add gemelli to boiling water in large pot. When pasta is al dente, remove it with a spider or small strainer and add directly to bowl, reserving pasta water. Rinse food processor work bowl with 125 ml (1/2 cup) pasta water to get the last bits of pesto and sprinkle over pasta. Toss well to coat pasta with pesto, adding a splash of pasta water if pasta seems dry. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: “Healthy Pasta: The Sexy, Skinny and Smart Way to Eat Your Favorite Food” by Joseph Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Appetite by Random House, 2015).

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