This pasta’s great if you prefer a variety of textures and flavours to sauce-smothered noodles. Roasting cherry tomatoes makes them absolutely burst with flavour, and when you split them open over the pasta, they subtly infuse the dish with that nice roasty taste. I like to overload pasta with veggies and whatever protein source I’m feeling; this way, you’re getting a well-rounded, vitamin-packed meal rather than several servings of carbs (don’t get me wrong–ain’t nothin wrong with carbs!)

For a really fantastic veggie-filled meal, try this dish with 1/4 of a walnut-stuffed roasted zucchini–you won’t believe how filling it is, (I couldn’t eat the whole half pictured above) and it takes about 3 extra minutes of work. If you feel like making extras, try 1/2 a stuffed zucchini for lunch tomorrow with a side of yogurt & fruit! They’re easy to reheat in the microwave (FYI: you’ll need a food processor to whirl up the walnuts.)

A note to the chef: this meal took me 40 minutes to prepare, including cook time. Not the fastest recipe, I know, but it’s still pretty simple to throw together, considering all the ingredients involved.

Pasta Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
1/2 box whole wheat pasta, any shape you like
1 package frozen large tail-off shrimp, precooked (you can use uncooked shrimp too, of course; I find heating precooked shrimp faster & easier)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 10-oz. package spinach leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP goat cheese for each serving (feta’s delish in this recipe too)
kalamata or california olives to garnish
1 tsp. each of olive oil & balsamic vinegar to drizzle over each serving
salt, pepper, italian seasoning & crushed red pepper to taste

Stuffed Zucchini (makes 4 servings):
2 large zucchinis
1/4 cup walnuts
a drizzle of olive oil
s&p

1. Start by getting everything ready: preheat oven to 400 degrees; bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta; wash spinach & tomatoes. Slice zucchinis in half length-wise and place them on a baking sheet with the tomatoes.
2. Pop the zucchini & tomatoes into the oven. Place shrimp in a colander and run cold water over them for about 5 minutes until thaw, pressing with a paper towel to release excess water.
3. Mince the garlic. When pasta is almost ready, place the garlic in a frying pan & drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. When it juuuust begins to brown, add spinach and stir. When spinach starts to wilt, add shrimp. Heat over medium-low heat just until shrimp is warm (it can be overcooked very easily!) Throw the contents of the frying pan in with the drained pasta and cover to keep warm while you finish prepping.
4. The zucchinis are ready when the middles are a bit soft. Scoop the middles from two of the halves and place them in your food processor. Chop the other two halves up and add them to the processor, along with the walnuts and a teeny drizzle (1 teaspoon or less) of olive oil. Grind a little salt & pepper over the mix, and whirl it up. Spoon the mixture back into the zucchini shells, and cut the pieces in half to make four small servings.
5. The tomatoes are ready when they’ve begun to shriveled a bit and leak some of their juice. Dish up the pasta and add some tomatoes to each serving. Drizzle a teaspoon each of olive oil and balsamic over each dish, and flavour to taste with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, basil & oregano to taste. Happy eatin!