Jillian Michaels (also known as “America’s Toughest Trainer”) knows how to get a person sweating. I have three of her DVDs, and they all get your heart pumping and face glistening; some of the dialogue is somewhat annoying, but when Jillian says to “watch your form” because sloppiness makes her “angry”…I listen. The woman has a commanding presence, even through the television. There was a time when I was consistently doing her workouts about four times a week, but I haven’t kept up with them as much lately. Maybe I need her to come to my house and tell me that when I slack off, she gets angry. Actually, that might send me into hiding. Regardless, she’s in great shape, and I trust that her recipes are nutritionally-sound.
In our efforts to become healthier eaters, I recently made a variation of one of her pasta recipes from her cookbook, “The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook.” It’s a quick meal to prepare, with the most time-consuming step being slicing your vegetables. The original recipe calls for zucchini and tomatoes, but if you read my last post, you know that I don’t love them. I ended up substituting red onion and spinach.
The super-light sauce is made of plain Greek yogurt, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese. I tossed in some chopped parsley, too. You might think that the yogurt would be too tangy, but it really blends quite nicely with the zest and cheese to create a fresh, creamy sauce. The guilt-free aspect of it surely doesn’t hurt either.
You can use whatever pasta you desire, but I used whole wheat spaghetti. While it’s not quite as satisfying as say, a bowl of spaghetti & meatballs, it’s a tasty, healthy alternative when you’re craving pasta.
Pasta with Zucchini, Red Onion & Spinach (Lemon-Yogurt Sauce)
- 8oz. whole wheat pasta
- 1/2 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 medium zucchini (sliced into thin shapes)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup red onion, sliced
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to the package directions. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and set it aside. Drain the pasta. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, and cook just until wilted.
- Add the onion and continue to cook until crisp-tender. Add the garlic, and cook for 15 to 30 seconds, until golden but not really brown.
- Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetable mixture to the yogurt mixture, and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta, and toss gently to combine. Add the reserved pasta cooking water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to thin it. Divide among four bowls and serve with parmesan cheese.