12 Easy, Healthy Pasta Recipes Ready in 45 Minutes or Less

Ham and Pea Tortellini
Photo: Blaine Moats

Carbs are not the enemy! Healthy pasta recipes are absolutely possible—just add protein- and vitamin-rich ingredients to balance out the energy-boosting carbs and you have a wholesome meal. These low-calorie pasta recipes (all clock in at less than 500 calories per serving) prove that comfort food can be quick, too. Each of the healthy pasta dinners here can be on the table in 45 minutes or less.

01 of 12

Eggs and Bacon Bucatini

Eggs and Bacon Buccatini in cast iron skillet
Blaine Moats

Think beyond omelets or waffles when you want breakfast for dinner. In this 40-minute baked pasta meal, bacon and eggs get the royal Italian treatment with the trendy long, thin, tubular pasta, crushed red pepper flakes, Parmesan, and parsley. Can't find bucatini? You could absolutely make this as a healthy spaghetti recipe instead.

02 of 12

Italian Style Turkey and Penne Toss

Italian Style Turkey and Penne Toss
Andy Lyons

If you like Bolognese, then we'd be willing to put money on the fact that you'll dig this dinner. The one-pot meaty pasta dish is healthified with spiced ground turkey (instead of higher-fat beef or pork), multigrain pasta, and slightly wilted spinach. It's a healthy penne pasta recipe at its finest: loaded with 38 grams of filling protein and full of Italian seasoning, all for only 301 calories per bowl.

03 of 12

Skillet Lasagna

Skillet Lasagna cooling on wire rack
Jacob Fox

Forget the time-consuming layered lasagna. Come weeknights, we skip the casserole and opt for this skillet version of the classic Italian recipe that can be ready in 30 minutes. Lean ground beef, ample veggies, and noodles all cook in one skillet. Simply top the healthy pasta dish with dollops of a three-cheese mixture for all the lasagna flavor in a fraction of the time.

04 of 12

Ham and Pea Tortellini

Ham and Pea Tortellini
Blaine Moats

Think of this healthy tortellini recipe like a grown-up, modernized rendition of hot dogs and mac and cheese—with just 309 calories per serving. The 20-minute pasta recipe gets a head start from refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini. Peas and arugula add a burst of fresh, springy flavor, and cubed ham offers protein and a salty, savory complement to the cheesy pasta.

05 of 12

Pesto Orecchiette with Spinach and Smoked Salmon

Pesto Orecchiette with Spinach and Smoked Salmon in large oval serving platter
Brie Passano

Orecchiette, which translates to "small ears" in Italian, is an ideal vessel for thinner sauces, such as pestos (as shown here), herby oil sauces, or cheesy sauces since the cup shapes can hold pockets of flavor. To complete this easy, healthy pasta recipe, wilt 4 cups of spinach with a couple cups of chicken stock. Then to bump up the protein and offer a smoky, deli-inspired partner to the pasta, toss in a handful of flaked smoked salmon.

Buy It: Good & Gather Orecchiette ($3, Target)

06 of 12

Macaroni Alfredo with Pumpkin and Kale

Macaroni Alfredo with Pumpkin and Kale
Hannah Bigot

Here's a delicious, savory reminder that canned pumpkin is great for more than pie. Adding nutrient-rich pumpkin and fresh kale amps up the health factor, while white wine, garlic, and fresh sage lend loads of flavor. And, of course, no Alfredo sauce—even a healthy fettuccine Alfredo sauce—is complete without cheese.

07 of 12

Linguine with Sausage and Greens

Linguine with Sausage and Greens
Jason Donnelly

Yes, we know. "Sausage" and "linguine" probably don't immediately come to mind when you think of a healthy pasta dish. But stick with us here. Toss in oodles of summer squash and leafy greens, then amp up the flavor with garlic and white wine. Just don't forget to top this quick, healthy pasta dinner with cheese (who could forget that?). The hint of extra indulgence is sure to entice picky eaters who might normally be scared off by all those veggies.

08 of 12

Pork and Pumpkin Noodle Bowl

Sage-Fried Pork and Pumpkin Noodle Bowl
Andy Lyons

Found: Your new favorite fall comfort food! This low-calorie pasta recipe is jam-packed with whole-wheat linguine, protein-rich and super-lean pork tenderloin, crispy sage leaves, pumpkin, and blue cheese. In just 30 minutes, you'll have a one-bowl meal you'll want to whip up all season (and likely all year) long.

09 of 12

Tilapia Pasta

Tilapia Pasta on white plate
Andy Lyons

Transform affordable tilapia into a restaurant-quality seafood pasta recipe with a few sneaky and speedy flavor-boosters. Fennel, garlic, onion, capers, and Italian seasoning team up to elevate the tomato sauce that coats the low-calorie pasta recipe. Fresh parsley and pan-seared tilapia are the only other two elements you need to complete this showy yet easy fish linguine. (Oh yes, and a basket of warm whole-wheat baguette to sop up every last drop of the Mediterranean-inspired sauce.)

10 of 12

Pasta with Chicken, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

Pasta with Chicken, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese
Kritsada Panichgul

Shortcut this easy, healthy pasta recipe by starting with precooked chicken. Whether with home-cooked leftover chicken or purchased rotisserie chicken, you get a satisfying penne dish with four food groups. (Might we recommend a hands-off roasted fruit dessert for a colorful meal that checks all the boxes?)

11 of 12

Italian Penne

Italian Penne in wooden bowl
Karla Conrad

Invite a taste of the Mediterranean to your dinner table with this simple and healthy penne pasta recipe. While your pasta cooks, sauté some classic Italian ingredients, including garlic, tomatoes, artichokes, and olives. Just add leftover or rotisserie chicken, mozzarella, and basil to complete the healthy pasta dinner in a mere 35 minutes.

12 of 12

Good and Healthy Macaroni and Cheese

Good and Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
Andy Lyons

That's right, the ultimate comfort food—mac and cheese—can be good for you thanks to multigrain pasta, nutritious add-ins like broccoli, and three lower-fat cheeses. Our rendition of the blue box classic even comes with a crunchy whole-wheat breadcrumb topping! While those toast up, toss together a leafy green salad and grab a fork to prepare to scoop up the creamy, healthy pasta dinner that's just 332 calories per serving.

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