Oodles of noodles with a twist: Step up to the plate with this nutrient packed and amazingly delicious pasta meal. The “from-scratch” marinara sauce is surprisingly easy to make and its garlicky flavor, with the crunchy broccoli is sure to tantalize your taste buds. By substituting sweet potato spirals for the traditional semolina noodles, this dish is not only a creative twist on the traditional version, but has significantly fewer calories, offering bonus nutrients from beta carotene, potassium as well as extra fiber from the sweet potatoes, that one cannot get from white pasta. The crisp-tender noodles are also a welcome change from your “run of the mill” spaghetti, while adding a welcome splash of color and antioxidants to boot! So go ahead and dig right in!
Number of servings: 4
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil, + 1 tsp, divided
- 2 medium, sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1.5 tbsp. fresh, chopped garlic, divided
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced into 1/4 ” chunks
- 4 medium tomatoes, pureed
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- 3/4 tsp salt, or per taste, divided
- fresh ground pepper per taste
- fresh sage, chopped ( may substitute herb of choice such as basil or parsley)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
- Bring water to boil in a large stock pot. Add a pinch of salt.
- Using a spiralizer or spiral vegetable slicer, cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into long, thin strands to yield roughly 7 cups of sweet potato noodles.
- Add the noodles to the lightly salted water, stirring very gently and allow to simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until tender and cooked through, but not falling apart*.
- Drain noodles, toss with the 1 tsp of olive oil and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil.
- Add 1/2 tbsp. of the fresh, chopped garlic and stir for a minute until garlic sizzles and turns a light, golden brown.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté in the garlic infused olive oil for a few minutes until mushrooms soften a little bit, but remain somewhat firm.
- With a slotted spoon, scoop up the mushrooms and set aside on a warm, clean plate.
- Add the broccoli to the saucepan, stirring for a couple of minutes until the florets turn a bright green, and broccoli is crisp-tender. Do not overcook. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside along with the mushrooms.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the saucepan. Add the remaining chopped garlic and sauté until it sizzles. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring the mixture to a full boil for a few minutes.
- Add stock, salt, 1 tsp of fresh chopped sage and continue to simmer for a few more minutes, until sauce reduces slightly.
- Remove a quarter cup of the simmering sauce from the saucepan, and stir in the all purpose flour until it dissolves.
- Add this “slurry” to the simmering sauce in the pan, stirring frequently until sauce gets bubbly and continues to thicken. (You should have about 2 cups of sauce at this time).
- Gently fold in the reserved mushrooms and broccoli into the sauce, allow to simmer for only a minute or so, and turn off the heat.
- Divide noodles equally between 4 bowls, toss with prepared sauce, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
- Garnish with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
* Be careful to not under-cook, nor over cook noodles. Noodles might taste “starchy” if under cooked, and will disintegrate if overcooked. You will get 4 cups of “cooked” noodles.
A Registered Dietitian’s tip: This meal packs a nutrient punch with 2 super foods, broccoli as well sweet potatoes. I tell my patients to try to get at least 2-3 colors of the rainbow on their plate if possible, and this meal certainly fits the bill!
Get a bite of this: Broccoli: Did you know that broccoli and other leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium, an essential nutrient for your teeth and bones? In addition, broccoli contains iron, and a host of phytonutrients and antioxidants including beta carotene, folate and vitamin C. Leafy greens contain beta carotene like carrots and sweet potatoes, however they also contain the green pigment chlorophyll, which masks the carotene they contain. For a vitamin A primer, please refer to this post.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the few food sources of vitamin D, with sunlight being the primary source. Vitamin D is ironically not a vitamin at all, but a prohormone, with emerging evidence suggesting a role in staving off chronic diseases ranging the gamut from diabetes and cancer to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes.
How sweet it is! Packed with beta carotene, which helps vision, immune function and bone health, sweet potatoes are also abundant in the mineral potassium, which unlike its counterpart electrolyte sodium, can help lower your blood pressure. Moreover, sweet potatoes are also good sources of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, manganese, a couple of B vitamins and the all important fiber. So if you have always held this nutrient powerhouse in high esteem, your respect for this starchy food likely just went up a notch!
Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.