I know parmesan is well-known for being the cheese of choice for pasta dishes, but have you ever tried adding crumbled feta? Feta is a type of Greek cheese traditionally made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goats’ milk. The nutrients in feta make it a good way to incorporate dairy into a healthy and balanced diet but make sure you are eating correct portion sizes as cheese also contains fat.
I love pasta dishes! They’re so quick and you can make so many different varieties of pasta sauce that you could never get bored! In my student days, I used to go to the supermarket and buy pasta sauce until I realised it was much healthier to make my own and it was actually quite simple. With just a few ingredients you can make your own pasta sauce within 10 – 15 minutes. By making your own you can use the freshest ingredients and you can add plenty of superfoods to your own taste. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you will be able to whip up a deilicious tasty sauce in the same time it takes to boil the kettle and cook the pasta.
When choosing pasta, use whole wheat pasta rather than white. White pasta is made from refined white wheat flour which has had a lot of the fibre removed and other essential nutrients. Whole wheat pasta is made from whole wheat flour which still contains all it’s nutrients so it’s much better for your body. It’s important to eat a variety of whole grains as they can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. Whole grains also provide slow releasing carbohydrates and can help regulate blood sugar levels. When cooked, whole wheat pasta is thicker and chewier than white, however when it comes to flavour, I really cannot tell the difference!
Ingredients (serves 4):
Preparation: 5 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes
500g whole wheat pasta
1tbsp virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small or 1/2 large courgette
1/2 small or 1/4 large butternut squash
1 tbsp maca powder
1 handful green beans
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/2 regular tub of cream cheese
1/2 block of feta
A touch of milk for sauce consistency
A pinch of chilli, oregano, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Step 1: Prepare the vegetables: finely chop the onions, crush the garlic, slice the broccoli into bite size pieces and cut the courgette, butternut squash and green beans into 1cm cubes. Now take a large deep pan, heat the oil and start frying the onions on a medium to high heat for 3 minutes adding a pinch of sea salt and pepper (use a normal olive oil when cooking and do not cook it on a high heat as it will break down the essential nutrients).
Step 2: Once the onions are softened add the garlic for 1 minute and then add the squash and courgette. Leave them to cook for a few minutes before adding the beans and broccoli a few minutes before the end (the squash should take about 10 minutes to soften if it has been cut into 1cm cubes).
Step 3: While your veg is cooking, boil the kettle and cook the wholewheat pasta in salted water (read the packet for correct timing and take off 1 or 2 minutes as we will cook the pasta further in the sauce). When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and leave to one side while you carry on with your sauce.
Step 4: Now the vegetables should be softened and the pumpkin should be a bit mushy. Don’t worry as this will mean it will melt into the sauce and give it a beautiful sweet flavour to add to the nutty maca taste.
Step 5: Now add the cream cheese, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and maca powder. Once the cream cheese has melted and formed a sauce you can add a touch of milk. Add the pasta and cook for the 2 minutes you missed off previously adding milk when needed.
Step 6: The sauce should be thick and the pasta should be soaking it up nicely. Now it’s time to take the pan off the heat, stir in the crumbled feta and serve with chilli, sea salt, oregano and pepper to taste.
Melted feta with sweet squash and nutty maca tastes delightful!