I often serve pasta as a side dish because my hubby requires regular starch feedings or he dies (or so he tells me). Yeah, I know, I just said yesterday that I eat a pretty healthy diet. Not always, I guess...but if it makes you feel any better I usually buy part whole wheat pasta and since I serve it as a side dish we don't eat huge platefuls (that should technically read "platesfull" but my computer is underlining it as a misspelling so I decided to just go with the flow. Must be Friday!). To make a quick side dish, I cook some pasta then stir some flavor in at the end. I put the lid on for a few minutes after wards to let it heat through and allow the flavors to blend.
Things to stir into your pasta (for 12-16 oz pasta):
Pink Pepperoni: Stir in one small can of tomato paste, then "rinse" the can with red wine and pour in. Add 1/3 cup pepperoni - buy it sliced, chop up, then mirowave for 2-3 minutes before adding to pasta.
Caper-lemon coated pasta: Butter, white pepper, capers with juice, 1/4 C lemon juice, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Fruit and nut: 1/3 C of chutney, 1/3 C raisins or currents, 1/2 C toasted walnuts, dash hot sauce or cayenne pepper. When I'm feeling exotic I substitute half the walnuts for banana chips.
Garlic and Parmesan: Butter, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/3 C coarsely chopped flat leave parsley, 1 tsp black pepper, sea salt, top with Parmesan cheese.
Black olive: 3 scallions, thinly sliced, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp oregano, olive oil, 1 tiny can chopped black olives (the chopped olives in these cans are basically minced but they sure pack a lot of olive into such a small can!)
Pesto: To make pesto not so unhealthy, I just stir in about 1/4 C of prepared pesto, then add some extra seasonings: basil and oregano, some chopped parsley, some garlic. A little pesto goes a long way!
Bacon: Leftover cooked bacon, crumbled; romano cheese, sliced scallions
Pimento-chickpea: A small jar of pimentos, about half a can of chickpeas (rinse well in hot water to remove all of that yucky canned-bean slime - plus it heats them up a little), 1/4 C pesto