Sometimes you just can’t beat a simple, cozy pasta dish with tomato sauce. This bowl is balanced with complex carbs from the pasta, protein from the shrimp, and lots of micronutrients from the sautéed kale. Oh, and plenty of fresh parmesan on top!
As a dietitian, I love finding ways to make healthy eating easier for people. This recipe does just that for me, and I know it will for you too! It’s ready in 20 minutes or less, and can easily be prepped ahead for multiple meals. Its simple ingredients can also be mixed and matched with other meal elements such as different sauces or proteins to create several different options for a week’s meals, or to suit the preferences of friends/family members.
Start boiling water in a pot for your pasta first; then heat a skillet to medium to start cooking the shrimp. Add shrimp to the skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and add lemon juice; cook until golden brown on each side, flipping as needed (goal internal temp >145F).
When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions; drain in colander and add back to pot on very low heat to keep warm.
After shrimp are finished cooking, remove shrimp and add kale to pan. Sauté kale with a pinch of salt until starting to brown; you likely won’t need to add more oil, but feel free to add a little more if it is sticking to the pan or appears very dry.
Portion pasta into 2 bowls and mix with tomato puree (warm in microwave prior to adding) and elote seasoning. Top with the sautéed shrimp and kale, and grate fresh parmesan over top to taste!
You can substitute any type of pasta that you like in this dish. Sautéed chicken would be a great topping if you don’t want to use shrimp, or you can skip both and use a higher-protein pasta like lentil or chickpea pasta. If you don’t have the elote seasoning that I use or an Italian spice blend that you like, I would recommend substituting marinara sauce for the tomato puree – that way seasonings are built in! If you don’t want to use tomato sauce, a pesto sauce would also be great in this.
I used this really great brand of tomato puree in this recipe that was gifted to me by an Italian brand, Mutti! I’m linking their store locator in case you want to pick of some of their tomato products for your pasta dishes.
Pasta gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but in reality it’s often the heavy sauces it is served with and large portion sizes at restaurants that sometimes make it a less healthful choice. When we pair pasta with a lean source of protein, healthy fats, and vegetables, it becomes a satisfying and nutritionally complete meal! Another example of a balanced pasta dish is this pumpkin pesto pasta with chicken – so good packs 2 kinds of veggies just like this recipe.
Kale is rich in vitamin K, which helps promote proper blood clotting among many other functions. Tomato puree provides vitamin C, an important factor for our immune system functioning. Shrimp contains important minerals like zinc and iodine, as well as 27 grams of protein per 4 oz serving. Pasta, whether enriched or whole grain, is a good source of several B-vitamins, which are crucial for energy production within the body. This meal also has a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats – this means that it will promote feelings of fullness that are sustained and keep us energized!