Kids Cook Monday: Garlic Cheese Pasta is an Easy Family Dinner
Use Packaged Ravioli or Tortellini for a Quick Easy Family Dinner
For any family with kids, pasta is usually a favorite meal.
At our home, pasta is on the menu at least once a week. Yet, my husband and I have found that the same old spaghetti or macaroni and cheese recipes can get old.
Did you know that in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, you can find amazing pre-made, filled pastas, including ravioli and tortellini? By themselves, or tossed with canned pasta sauce, they can be pretty tasty.
We like to reduce our family's consumption of salt, sugar and fat, while sneaking healthy veggies into a pasta meal that everyone enjoys. With a few creative stir-ins, you can make an easy and healthy meal in less time than it takes to swing by the fast food drive-in.
Garlic Cheese Pasta is a recipe you can have on the table within 15 minutes. Simply add fresh, vegetables, healthy olive oil and - of course - lots of garlic and some Parmesan cheese to your choice of stuffed pasta, and watch it disappear!
The recipe below is for a vegetarian family dinner. For those that want to add protein to the meal, there are additional suggested stir-ins below.
Ingredients for Garlic Cheese Pasta
We came up with this recipe simply by looking in our refrigerator one evening for some vegetables to add to a package of ravioli. I had forgotten to pick up tomato sauce and didn't want to go back out to the store!
I starting with the idea of tossing boiled pasta with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, but then considered that veggies like asparagus, tomatoes and spinach would be healthy additions.
In addition, the bright green and red would liven up the appearance of the pasta, creating an attractive dish (of course I am probably the only one in my home that cares what the meal looks like, but I love to take pride in the presentation!)
- 1 20-ounce package cheese ravioli or cheese tortellini, serving 4-6 (from the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 2 cups chopped fresh roma or heirloom tomatoes (about 3 whole tomatoes)
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 4-5 cloves chopped garlic (less or more to your personal taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook Time for Garlic Cheese Pasta
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Ready in: 15 min
- Yields: 4-6 servings
Prepare Garlic Cheese Pasta in Less than 15 Minutes!
This family dinner recipe is so easy and delicious, you'll never resort to frozen pizza or chicken nuggets again! You can prepare garlic cheese ravioli in less than 15 minutes.
- Start by bringing 6 cups of water to a rolling boil in a 3 quart saucepan.
- Add cheese ravioli (or any other choice of fresh, stuffed pasta) and continue to boil for 4-6 minutes
- In a separate fry pan or large skillet, heat olive oil, then add garlic, tomatoes and asparagus. Stir fry for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Add spinach to pan and stir fry until wilted. Stir vegetables together
- Drain the ravioli, then add to the pan with the vegetables. Stir to coat completely.
- Serve pasta with a sprinkling of sea salt and shredded Parmesan cheese to taste
This recipe makes 6 servings. In my house, we double it to make sure everyone gets enough!
Other Stir-In Ideas for Garlic Cheese Pasta
If asparagus is not in season, or your family doesn't like tomatoes, try using 2 cups of sliced, chopped red and green peppers instead. One cup of small broccoli florets is another option to replace the green vegetables.
If you prefer a non-vegetarian family dinner, add 1 cup of cooked chopped bacon, or 1 cup of thinly sliced Prosciutto ham to the cooked and drained pasta.
No matter which stir-in options you decide on, don't forget to add the garlic and cheese! As an alternative to Parmesan Cheese, try shredded Romano or another hard white cheese, instead.
Garlic Cheese Pasta is Inexpensive, Healthy and Less Messy Than Sauced-Based Recipes
I love the healthy quality of this recipe and the fact that it doesn't use expensive, messy sauces. The addition of a little olive oil, garlic and stir-fried vegetables (or other suggested stir-ins above) is enough "sauce" for the ravioli or tortellini.
We serve the garlic cheese pasta with tossed green salad and french bread or rolls. If there are leftovers (not usually the case), the dish is delicious cold, or it can be reheated easily in the microwave.
Check out the smiles on my kids' faces above, and you'll see that this family recipe is a big hit!
The first time my oldest son tried this pasta recipe, he asked, "Did you guys go to the Olive Garden tonight?" after spooning leftover dinner into his bowl. No higher praise could be obtained from a 14-year old boy! And, making our own pasta dinner cost about $10 total for all the ingredients to serve our family of 6, as opposed to the $60 or so it would have cost us to eat out. We couldn't even pick up fast food for our family for less than $20 these days.
Convinced to try this easy family dinner recipe? If you do, please let me know what you think in the comment section below.
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© 2012 Stephanie Hicks
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