This healthy Mediterranean Pasta is the breezy social butterfly of the dinner recipe crowd. So effortless! So chic! A light, easygoing mix of angel hair pasta, fresh lemon, and classic Mediterranean ingredients like tomato, Parmesan, and artichoke, this simple but splendid healthy pasta recipe can carry itself at any meal. Whether it’s a hectic family weeknight meal or romantic date night in, this Mediterranean pasta belongs.
I prize recipes that combine pantry staples and fresh ingredients to create fast, healthy meals.
Mixing fresh and pantry items means that I only need to buy one or two things to make dinner. Cooking and shopping this way is often less expensive, AND because pantry items are typically quick and convenient, I can get dinner on the table sooner too.
This Mediterranean pasta is a perfect example.
Healthy Mediterranean Pasta—Fast Meets Fresh
- Whole Wheat Pasta. Higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients than regular pasta, whole wheat pasta is better for you. Its flavor is mild, so no one will suspect your healthy swap. You’ll always find a box or two in my pantry.
As long as the pasta is 100% whole grain, there isn’t one type that is better for you than another. I like to keep a few shapes on hand for making all kinds of healthy pasta recipes. This Garlic Shrimp Pasta, Chicken Feta Pasta, and Kale Pasta are two of my favorites for long-style noodles like spaghetti and fettuccini. Shorter noodles are perfect for Sun Dried Tomato Pasta and Caprese Chicken Pasta. (For more inspo, check out my full list of healthy pasta recipes.)
- Canned Artichokes. An instant way to add a colorful and delicious serving of veggies to any recipe. Steam and section whole fresh artichokes on a weeknight? No. Open a can of artichoke hearts and add them to a quick pasta? Yes!
- Canned Olives. The salty-umami oomph. They’re big flavor and will add only a few dollars to your grocery bill.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Don’t skimp on the amount, as you need it to create a luscious sauce. While the olive oil does add fat, it’s good fat and makes this a more heart healthy pasta recipe.
Next, we have the ingredients on Team FRESH. They’re a classic Mediterranean combo that brings the pasta to life.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Juicy, sweet, and tasty year-round.
- Chopped Garlic. While I sometimes take a shortcut with garlic powder, in this healthy pasta, you need the real deal. Hate chopping garlic? (I do!) Try a garlic press like this one.
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice. No bottled juice allowed. Trust me! You need the real deal here.
- Grated Parmesan. As with the lemon juice, use the real deal (not the green can). This pasta has few ingredients, so each is incredibly important.
This Mediterranean pasta is a testament to the fact that a recipe doesn’t need to be long, time-consuming, or complicated to be delicious and taste special.
Mediterranean Pasta Recipe Variations
Thanks to the hearty artichokes and whole grains in the pasta noodles, I found this Mediterranean Pasta plenty satisfying when left vegetarian.
- To Make Vegan. You can simply omit the Parmesan.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Shrimp. I’d suggest sautéing or grilling the shrimp separately, then tossing it with the pasta at the end to prevent the shrimp from overcooking. (Or give this Mediterranean Shrimp a try.)
- Mediterranean Pasta with Canned Tuna. For additional heart-healthy protein and fats. (I recommend oil packed for the best flavor.)
- Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken. For those seeking shredded chicken pasta recipes, try combining this Mediterranean Pasta with my quick and easy method for How to Cook Shredded Chicken (stovetop) or this Instant Pot Chicken. You can shred or dice the chicken and toss it in with the pasta at the end.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Italian Sausage. Slice precooked Italian chicken sausages into coins, then brown the pieces in a sauté pan. Remove them from the pan, proceed with the recipe as directed, and toss the coins into the pasta at the end.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Feta. Swap the Parm for feta cheese. We served our leftovers this way, and that was delicious too.
What to Serve with Mediterranean Pasta
- Salad. A simple green salad like this Arugula Salad or this Spinach Strawberry Salad is perfect for this pasta. For something a bit heartier, try this Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.
- Vegetables. This dish is also great with roasted vegetables, especially these Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
And now GUESS WHAT? I have a full-length cooking demonstration video showing you just how fast and easy this Mediterranean Pasta is to make!
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OK, now let’s make this bright and healthy Mediterranean Pasta!
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon, divided
- 6 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta whole wheat spaghetti, or similar whole wheat noodles (I recommend DeLallo whole wheat pasta)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts (14 ounces)
- 1 can whole pitted black olives (6 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
- While the water boils and pasta cooks, prep your vegetables and remaining ingredients: mince the garlic; halve the cherry tomatoes; drain and roughly chop the artichokes; drain and slice the olives in half. Once the vegetables start cooking, the recipe goes quickly, so you want to be ready.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomatoes begin to break down and release some juices into the oil, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add the artichokes and olives. Drizzle the lemon juice over the pasta. Continue tossing and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until warmed through. If the pasta seems too dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley. Toss once more and enjoy.
- Tips from Mary, the recipe's author: Don't skimp on the olive oil or parsley. Both are key to giving the final dish great flavor.
- To reheat: Warm gently in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of water to keep the pasta from drying out.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
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