Making your pasta dishes more healthful for your family.

Pasta is a low fat food and a good source of folic acid, ir on, and numerous other nutrients, making it an ideal food as part of a healthy diet for children. Pasta is an excellent base for healthful vegetables. The name “pasta” is the Italian word for “paste” because of the basic ingredients of flour and water


  • Use one of the many varieties of whole wheat pasta available. Start by combining whole wheat with regular past a to help your childr en adjust to the new tast e.
  • Enhance the nutritional value and flavor of your favorite tomato sauce by adding chopped or shredded vegetables. Try mushrooms, spinach, carrots, zucchini, red peppers, or beets.
  • Use including pasta in vegetable soups, side dishes, cold salads, and as the main dish.
  • Use various pasta shapes to add a fun twist for children.
  • Pair plenty of vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes, with pasta for a tasty cold salad.
  • Use a small pasta shape, such as orzo, when adding it to vegetable soup. Pasta cooked in the soup broth is more flavor ful than cooking in plain water.
  • Experiment with other vegetable sauces as an alternative to the traditional tomato sauce. Sauté onions and garlic; add your favorite vegetable to water or stock.
  • Puree the vegetables to a smooth consistency and serve with any pasta. Some suggested vegetables include br occoli, butternut squash, peas, cauliflower, or red peppers.
  • Keep fresh herbs on hand as a quick and easy way to add a lot of flavor to pasta dishes. Fresh herbs are best added at the last minute for the best flavor.Fresh basil and parsley are often used in pasta dishes.
  • Pair pasta with beans or lentils for a protein-rich, but inexpensive and delicious meatless meal.



Things to consider:


  • Cook pasta in plenty of boiling water. Use at leastone gallon of water for each pound of pasta.
  • Season the water with salt prior to cooking. Use at least 1/2 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water.
  • Serve modest sized portions. A healthy portion size is 1 to 2 ounces of dried pasta or 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked pasta.
  • Cook according to time specified in directions. Pasta should be cooked al dente, meaning “to the tooth.”
  • Choose low-fat sauces to be served with pasta dishes. Tomato-based and other vegetable sauces are naturally low in fat.
  • Use low-fat cheeses. Good choices include part skim mozzarella and part skim ricotta cheeses.
  • Serve a variety of vegetables with pasta dishes. Broccoli, peas, shredded carrots, red pepper strips, chopped tomatoes, and zucchini or butternut squash are
    delicious with pasta.
  • Serve whole grain pasta for increased fiber and other key nutrients.
  • Use fresh and frozen vegetables, where feasible, in place of canned vegetables,which are higher in sodium.

Pasta and the Perfect Sauce
There are hundreds of shapes and sizes of pasta with each shape used for different preparations based on how the sauce will cling, the texture desired, or how the product will be used. For example:
Pasta shapes with holes or ridges, such as wagon wheels or rotini, are perfect for chunkier sauces like chunky tomato sauce.
Thin, delicate pastas, such as angel hair or vermicelli, are better served with light, thin sauces like a vinaigrette or pesto sauce.
Thicker pasta shapes, such as fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces like cream-style or cheese sauces.
Very small pasta shapes, such as alphabet shapes and acini di pepe (meaning “seeds of pepper”), are good for soups


Culinary Techniques for Cooking Pasta
1. Use plenty of water. A minimum of 1 gallon of water per pound of pasta is recommended.
2. Bring water to boil and add salt. Use at least 1/2 tablespoon of salt for each gallon of water. Seasoning the
water will enhance the flavor of the pasta and may require less salt needed in the sauce.
3. Gradually add pasta so water continues to boil; stir to prevent sticking.
4. Cook according to time specified in directions. Pasta should be cooked al dente, or firm to the bite, yet cooked through. If the pasta is to be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, undercook the pasta by 1/3 of the cooking time specified.
5. Pour into large colander to drain.
6. If pasta is to be used cold in a salad, rinse immediately with cold, running water until the pasta is cooled or cool
drained pasta on sheet pans in the refrigerator. Follow your operations food safety procedures.
7. If pasta is to be served hot, place into steam table pan and serve immediately.
8. Cook pasta in batches. It will not hold longer than 30 minutes without becoming mushy and unappetizing.


National Food Service Management Institute

The University of Mississippi