Ah, pasta. The go-to dinner for uncreative and short-on-time vegetarians everywhere. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Pasta is delicious, after all. And it’s versatile–switch up the sauces and vegetables you add and you’ve got a completely different dish.
In my house, we have pasta once a week. It’s rarely even a recipe–most often, I wing it. But as I’ve become more conscious about nutrition and how much protein I eat a day, I’ve also realized that the veggie-and-pasta dinners I used to prepare were pretty light in the protein department.
Here are some changes I’ve made to make our pasta dinners a little more substantive.
- Add some “meat.” I’m partial to Field Roast sausages and Upton’s Italian Seitan. If I’m feeling especially ambitious, I’ll make some meatless meatballs.
- Pair pasta with legumes. I love Kitchen Treaty’s Red Lentil Marinara, which can be made in big batches and frozen. White beans and chickpeas are also good with pasta.
- Top with cheese. Just 1/4 cup of a hard cheese can add up to 10 grams of protein to your bowl of pasta.
- Try pasta with a higher protein content. We really love Banza pasta, which has 25 grams of protein per serving because it’s made with chickpeas–but it still tastes fantastic. Trader Joe’s has two bean-based pastas that my family likes too, although the black bean one is hit or miss with my daughter thanks to the color.
While you can make this Lemony Shaved Asparagus Linguine with any pasta you prefer, this is the kind of dish that I like to make with a higher protein pasta just so I’m not feeling ravenous a few hours after eating. (Carbs! So delicious, but so not filling! At least for me.) Spring asparagus are sliced into ribbons–easy to do with a vegetable peeler–and tossed with linguine, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
To add some texture and a bit of extra flavor, I like to top this with crispy, garlicky panko. I made a recipe many, many years ago from Cooking Light that topped pasta with panko and I just loved that combination and it’s been in my back pocket ever since. It’s especially great in a pasta that’s not too saucy–when you want to add a little oomph.
Photos by Lindsey Johnson
Lemony Shaved Asparagus Linguine
Choose a higher protein linguine option, like chickpea, over traditional and this simple vegetarian pasta dinner packs in 34 grams of protein per serving.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 cloves garlic divided
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces dry linguine I used Banza, cooked until just al dente (a minute or two less than the package instructions)
- 1 pound asparagus sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
In a large skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it's shimmering.
Crush one of the garlic cloves in a garlic press; add it to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and toast it until it's lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Season the panko mixture with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Wipe the skillet clean to remove any remaining crumbs.
Return the skillet to the stovetop, still on medium heat. Crush the second garlic clove. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the linguine and asparagus; toss to coat (tongs work well for this).
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the lemon zest, juice, parmesan cheese and basil; toss again to distribute the ingredients evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then divide into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons of the panko mixture and additional parmesan, if desired.
Don't want to fuss with shaving the asparagus? Just cut it into 1-inch pieces and steam until tender, then toss in the skillet with the linguine.