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25 healthy-ish pasta recipes to add to your weekly rotation

From plant-based Bolognese to light-yet-luscious Alfredo, these healthier pastas make it easy to try something new.
/ Source: TODAY

The great thing about pasta is that it's so easy to make — just boil, strain, toss in sauce. But that also means it's so easy to make the same thing with that trusty box of pasta every time. Sometimes, though, we need to think outside the box. To help you do just that, we rounded up our favorite healthy-ish pasta ideas that are unique, delicious and easy to add to any menu plan. Plus, once old faithful gets a break from the mealtime routine, you may even miss it a little bit.

Joy Bauer's Kale Pesto Pasta

Whip up this tasty spin on traditional pesto, stat! Each bright and vibrant bite contains a blend of earthy kale, toasty walnuts, aromatic basil, EVOO, garlic and Parmesan. The end result is a flavorful sauce that's bursting with vitamin C, beta-carotene and omega-3s, three nutrients that play a key role in enriching your skin's overall appearance.

This lightened-up version of Alfredo sauce is perfect when it's a little chilly outside. The sauce is downright healthy compared to that of a traditional Alfredo and no one would even know the difference, it's so delicious.

One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

Two simple vegetarian additions turn this easy one-pot pasta into a vibrant main dish. You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste. You can use any kind of noodle you prefer or switch up the greens with chopped kale, escarole or chard instead of spinach.

The avocado cream sauce is both light and refreshing — qualities rarely found in creamy sauces. This sauce also maintains an amazing brightness with the addition of fresh basil and lemon and is extremely versatile.

Herby Lemon Spaghetti with Snap Peas

Wake up your weeknight dinner routine with this light and zesty pasta dish. It's quick and easy to throw together and bursting with fresh flavors.

Pasta alla Norma

Anthony Contrino

This simple, rustic Sicilian pasta dish is a Contrino family favorite. Sweet tomatoes, earthy eggplant and a little red pepper for spice make it a hearty dish for any night. Normally topped with ricotta salata, this version uses a whipped ricotta to balance the tomato-based sauce with a creamier texture.

One of Dylan Dreyer's favorite recipes, this easy pasta dish checks all the boxes for a healthy, kid-friendly dinner: veggies, starch and protein. Her son Calvin adores it so you know it will be a success with diners of all ages.

Mac and Greens

Mac and Greens

Chloe Coscarelli

Love a bowl of comforting mac but also want to get your greens? This dish has got you covered. Easy, creamy and craveable, it's 100% plant-based so it's good for you and the earth.

Springtime Pasta Bake

Springtime Pasta Bake

Alex Guarnaschelli

This dish serves that wonderful need for comfort food without being overly rich or heavy. It features fresh asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes and sweet onion. Plus, it all comes together in the oven, which makes it a cinch for any weeknight meal.

Lentil Bolognese

It's fun to use lentils in a Bolognese in the same way that you would meat, while keeping traditional elements like carrots and onions along for the ride. The result adds a plant-based twist to a traditional and iconic pasta dish.

This pasta is flavorful, light and balanced while remaining a plant-based, veggie-packed dinner or lunch that everyone will love. The roasted red peppers and garlic add a sweetness to the sauce that is undercut by the acidic tomatoes, lemon juice and spices.

In this pasta, Samah Dada balances earthy sesame butter with some fresh lemon juice to make it creamy, bright and tangy. It's the perfect pasta for when you want something flavorful and rich with a little bit of zing, too.

Harissa-spiced pasta and chicken with green beans reflects the cooking and flavors of North Africa with the punch of harissa married to Italian influence with the pasta shells.

Sunny's Peppery Herbed Pasta

Coarsely ground black pepper and red pepper flakes bring a unique spice to this simple pasta dish. It only has five ingredients, but it is absolutely bursting with flavor.

Full of flavor and so easy to prepare, this pasta dish is a go-to. The maple syrup balances out any bitterness from the Brussels sprouts so all you taste is the freshness of the veggies.

Giada's Paccheri with Mushroom and Pistachios

Mushrooms with Marsala and pistachios is a fantastic combination of flavors, which is why this pasta is currently one of Giada's favorites. Try using royal trumpet mushrooms, morels, cremini, shiitakes or oyster mushrooms. They all have different flavors and textures and experimenting with new varieties is part of the fun!

 Creamy Vegan Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is one of those dishes that many people love because of its simplicity, but it's not easy to replicate the complex flavor of traditional Italian cheeses. Dada's take on the Italian staple uses nutritional yeast and cashews to create a luscious, umami-packed sauce.

Eating dairy-free or vegan food doesn't mean you have to miss out on your favorite flavors and textures. This recipe has all the rich and creamy goodness of traditional macaroni and cheese without all the heaviness.

Classic Italian pesto gets a healthy makeover with a big serving of spinach. This recipe is totally customizable with any toppings you choose! Add blistered tomatoes, almond milk ricotta, more olive oil and something crunchy. A gluten-free chickpea pasta is great for added protein.

The creamy, indulgent sauce is made from healthy, high-protein tofu, but it tastes like it has all sorts of dairy products in it. Top it with shiitake bacon (simply thinly sliced roasted shiitake mushrooms with olive oil and sea salt) and it’s the perfect bait for your long-term mate!

Baked Lemony Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

The combination of broccoli, mushrooms and garlic with the bright lemony flavor and kick of heat is divine. Baking the pasta gives the pieces along the rim an extra crunchy texture that's deeply satisfying.

Clean Green Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

An ideal dish that often provides leftovers for later, this hearty, veggie-packed lasagna hits all the right flavor notes. Even for those used to its meaty counterpart, this dish will be a winner.

Baked Broken Lasagna Pasta with Spinach

This recipe is low maintenance, so you can put it in the oven and then finish odd tasks around the house while it cooks. There's something comforting about digging up the thick pieces of lasagna noodles smothered in garlicky red sauce. Plus, the spinach makes it feel like it's a little bit healthy.

Spicy Italian Mackerel Spaghetti

Spicy Italian Mackerel Spaghetti

Stephanie Harris-Uyidi

As a member of the tuna family, mackerel is a delectable, yet underrated fish that deserves more attention. A firm, high-fat fleshed fish, it's known for its bold, savory flavor. When mixed with salty olives, sweet, acidic tomatoes and fresh herbs, this seafood-topped pasta is a must-try.

Joy Bauer's Baked Ziti Casserole

Cheesy, saucy, noodle-y and satisfying, this lightened-up baked ziti will not disappoint. Just imagine: whole-grain penne tossed with ground meat, three different cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta and Parm) and flavorful tomato sauce, then baked to perfection in the oven. Joy Bauer also sneaks in some spinach for added nutrition and fiber. It's baked-ziti bliss.