5 Ingredients: Pasta With Anchovies, Olives & Spinach

You may have caught the new show on Food Network -- 5 Ingredient Fix -- but we wanted to try our hand at creating our own simple, healthy weeknight meals from a few pantry staples. This first attempt is based around whole grain pasta.

You may have caught the new show on Food Network -- 5 Ingredient Fix. Host Claire Robinson preps full meals from just a few ingredients. Inspired by the idea, we wanted to try creating our own healthy dish created with some simple pantry staples. For this first try, we're building around simple whole-wheat pasta.

  • 1 box of whole-grain pasta
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons anchovies, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 6-ounce bag of spinach
1) Whole grain pasta

We've said it a lot already -- whole-grain pastas are a healthy choice and packed with fiber, protein and iron. Nowadays, you can find whole-grain pastas made from wheat, brown rice, even quinoa and corn. They all have slightly difference flavors and textures to compliment whatever kind of meal you’re in the mood for. In our house, we eat whole -wheat or brown rice pasta once a week in a stir-fry or fresh pasta dish.

Figure on about 2 ounces of dry pasta per person. For this recipe, I would use about half the box to serve 4 people and prepare according to the package directions. To save time, make your sauce while the pasta is cooking.

2) Anchovies

I used to be a bit freaked out by anchovies, but learned to love them when I discovered they add amazing flavor to all kinds of dishes. When cooked, they have a mild and nutty taste, nothing fishy! They're also high in protein, calcium, iron and omega-3 fats.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and toss in 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 to 2 teaspoons of minced anchovies (or anchovy paste). Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

3) Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are affordable, easy to store and can be used for many things. Cooked and canned tomatoes are low in calories and high in the antioxidant lycopene. I buy the no salt added varieties of canned tomatoes so I can control the amount of sodium in my recipes.

Add one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes to the skillet, season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.

4) Olives

I like to use kalamata olives for this recipe -– they have a spicy bite and a gorgeous deep purple color. Add about 1/2 cup of chopped olives to the sauce and simmer for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

5) Fresh Spinach

Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients with vitamins A, C, K, folate, fiber and iron. I love how it adds texture, flavor and color to this dish. Don’t have any spinach? Any other tender green will work well in its place (arugula or swiss chard, perhaps?).

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the cooked pasta, cooking liquid and a 6-ounce bag of chopped or baby spinach to your sauce mixture (it may seem like a lot of spinach -- but it will wilt down quickly). Toss well to combine, cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes and serve.

Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories: 330
Fat: 11 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 10 grams
Carbohydrate: 50 grams
Sodium: 341 milligrams
Cholesterol: 2 milligram
Fiber: 3 grams

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