2 Fast Pastas: Almond-Pesto Pasta or Marinara Pasta

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Whip up these filling pasta dishes in a flash!

marinara sauce

Creating a deliciously healthy meal couldn’t be easier! Make a pesto spaghetti recipe or a marinara spaghetti recipe simply by preparing the noodles according to package directions and tossing with either of these 5- ingredient-or-fewer  meatless sauces. Read on to find out about these variations and recipes.

Looking for an alternative to whole wheat or whole grain pastas? Legume-fortified pastas, Barilla Plus, are a good alternative.

For Pesto Spaghetti Dishes, Try These Variations:

1. Parsley and almonds (recipe follows)

2. Basil and pine nuts (See our Basil, Spinach, and Pine nut pesto for this type)

3. Arugula and pine nuts

4. Watercress and walnut (simply substitute the parsley with watercress and the almonds with walnuts, following the recipe below)

Quick tip:

Add halved cherry tomatoes or cooked broccoli to the pesto pasta to add nutrients and create a larger portion sizes. For instance if pasta is full of broccoli, the portion size could be larger with no added carbs.

For Marinara Spaghetti Dishes:

Use whole canned tomatoes or freshly chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, garlic and some olive oil (recipe follows).

For extra flavor, add any or all of these ingredients: 1 tablespoon of capers, a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes,  4 or 5 anchovies, broken up, and about 1/4 chopped kalamata or black olives. When all of these ingredients are added to the marinara sauce, it’s a quick Puttanesca sauce. Want to make this a Puttanesca sauce but not an anchovy fan? Add chunks of canned albacore tuna at the end of cooking time.

Try your favorite pasta with one of these side dishes:

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2 Fast Pastas: Almond-Pesto Pasta or Marinara Pasta

Choose from one of these two delicious pasta sauces to satisfy your comfort food craving!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 1 cup
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Author Skinny Ms.



  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta spaghetti, linguine, or farfalle, cooked according to package directions

For the Almond-Pesto

  • 1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley loosely packed, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup almonds peel-on and lightly toasted

For the Marinara Sauce

  • 15 ounces whole tomatoes canned, with juices
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 fresh basil leaves chopped or torn
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the Pesto

  • Toast the nuts in a skillet over medium-heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Add parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and oil to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the nuts and pulse until coarsely chopped into the puree. Do not over blend/ over process the almonds. There should be very small coarse pieces in the pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir.

For the Marinara

  • Crush tomatoes, coarsely, by squeezing and breaking them up with your hands. Set aside with the juices.
  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan or skillet and add the onions, cooking for 5 minutes over medium heat, until softened and translucent. Do not allow the onions to brown, use lower heat if necessary. Add the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes and juices immediately, and continue to cook over medium heat until much of the juice evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To Assemble with Pasta

  • Toss the sauce of choice into the pasta and top with freshly ground black pepper to serve. Recommend adding 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes with the Almond-Pesto Pasta.


Marinara Nutrition (with pasta):
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 289 | Carbohydrates: 49 g | Protein: 10 g | Total Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 163 mg | Potassium: 412 mg | Dietary Fiber: 2 g | Sugars: 4 g | Vitamin A: 928 IU | Vitamin C: 17 mg | Calcium: 42 mg | Iron: 2 mg | SmartPoints: 9

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 114mg | Potassium: 277mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1313IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 3mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 12
Keywords Quick and Easy

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