Make-Ahead Skinny Baked Pastas
Is your New Year’s resolution to slim down, get fit or focus on eating healthier? Whatever your fitness goals, good-for-you delish dishes are one of the easiest ways to stay on track. Pass on the pasta? Not a chance! We’ve come up with some waistline-friendly pasta bake tips that’ll cure your craving for carbs without derailing your diet.
Whip together an easy-peasy, skinny pasta bake in one of our PYREX® EASY GRAB® 3-QT OBLONG BAKING DISHES and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. No recipe needed. Just toss together pasta, sauce, a few toppings and cheese—and you’ll have quick comfort food ready in time for dinner. Things to keep in mind when you’re creating your make-ahead masterpiece:
PREP THE CASSEROLE
When making oven-baked meals in Pyrex® baking dishes, always start by filling the bottom of the dish with a layer of liquid to reduce thermal shock. A layer of sauce, broth or olive oil will keep your glass pan happy while baking and will also keep pasta from sticking to the bottom as it bakes.
CHOOSE THE PERFECT PASTA
Maybe your new workout regime calls for fewer calories and carbs, or perhaps you’ve gone gluten free. No matter what your diet specifications, look for gluten-free or low-carb options. Whole wheat pasta is another great way to sneak some good-for-you deliciousness into your meal. Whatever your pasta pick, a 1-lb box will do the trick. Boil it up just until al dente (the pasta will keep cooking once baked, so you don’t want to overcook it and end up with a mushy mess!), then toss it into your baking dish together with the sauces and cheese you please.
STICK WITH SMART SAUCES
Ditch the heavy cream and butter-based sauces and opt for something a little lighter. While olive oil isn’t exactly low-cal, it’s chock-full of healthy fats that can actually be a great addition to your diet. Toss it with vinegar and a little garlic for a super-quick sauce. Need something that packs more punch? Pesto is a delicious choice. You can even use kale instead of basil to really up the nutritional value. Tomato-based sauces are another great source of healthy goodness.
POWER UP WITH PROTEIN
Lean proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and even more crucial if you’ve been hitting the gym. For a no fuss add-in, power up your pasta bake with boneless skinless chicken breasts. Or, go coastal and stir in some seafood. Salmon and shrimp are nutritional toss-ins that taste great with pasta.
LOAD UP AND VEG OUT
Here’s your chance to let your culinary genius shine! Veggies are a great way to fill up without the calories piling up. Not to mention that they’re bursting with health benefits, so get creative and add all of your favorites. Asparagus, zucchini, squash, carrots, tomatoes…whatever’s in season (or in your fridge) can make a great mix-in. Or, if you’re focusing on particular health goals, tailor your veggie choices accordingly.
TOP IT WITH CHEESE
Every pasta bake deserves a layer of cheese on top. To keep the calories down, while still making a dish worth diving into, select flavorful hard cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. A little bit goes a long way, so you can use a small sprinkling and still get extra-cheesy goodness. Or opt for a small amount of sharp Cheddar, which also packs a big flavor punch.
OUR FAVE FLAV COMBOS
When it comes to pasta bakes, just about any combo goes! Though you don’t need a recipe to make a delish dish, here are a few of our top-notch tried-and-true favorites to get you started.
- Baked Pasta with Sriracha Meat Sauce. Looking to spice things up? Try this surprising combo, which includes a dash of everyone’s favorite hot sauce. Use lean ground beef or sub in chicken to keep it lean. NOTE: When baking this recipe in a Pyrex casserole dish, be sure to add 1-1/2 cups of sauce or broth to the bottom of your pan before spooning the pasta in for baking!
- Zucchini Pepper Casserole. This dish is bursting at the seams with crisp colorful veggies. For a skinny version of this classic, substitute fat-free half-and-half for regular. NOTE: When baking this recipe in a Pyrex pan, remember to add 1-1/2 cups of broth or cream sauce to the bottom of the pan first.
- Fresh Tomato-Pesto Sauce. Can’t decide between pesto or red sauce? You don’t have to! Have them both with this inspired combo. Spread this sauce into your Pyrex casserole dish, top with pasta, more sauce and a layer of chicken and/or cheese. Then bake until bubbly and golden. It’s that easy to make your own pasta bake!
Borrow one of these tried-and-true recipes or create your own. No matter how you toss your pasta, this easy outline is a recipe for success, no matter what your health or diet goals.
- PLAN TO SUCCEED. Get more healthy New Year’s tips in our article Resolution Reality and a Plan to Succeed.
- DARE TO INDULGE. Discover how to indulge in moderation with these ideas for Sweet Resolutions for Slimmed-Down Desserts.
- TAKE IT ON THE RUN. Eat healthy wherever you go by packing in the PYREX® PORTABLES® 4-PC SET. With a perfect-fit lid and convenient carrier, this set makes it easy to take homemade eats anywhere.