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Food & Drink

Quick Veggie Pasta

This is your weekly reminder to make only some meals a big production. You can get great results by throwing whatever you have in a pan or pot. I have a basic template that I follow, but I like to play around with the ingredients. It’s my favorite recipe for “whatever goes.” You can add meat or make it vegan by changing one element.

Why I love this vegetable pasta

It’s my favorite kind of quick, easy, and satisfying meal. You don’t need to measure anything because it’s so flexible. You can use any pasta and any vegetable. You can also play with the seasonings. It’s easy, tasty, and doesn’t require much mental effort to prepare. 🙂


This recipe can be made with any pasta and any quantity. You can use any pasta for this recipe, including tiny pasta like orzo or couscous. It’s great because I use only a portion of the box of pasta in one sitting, so there are always small quantities of random pasta that need to be used.

While this tip may make purists clutch at their pearls, breaking long pasta into half before cooking is essential. It is easier to mix in chunky items (like vegetables). This will allow you to combine the pasta and vegetables instead of having the vegetables pushed out to the sides of the pan with a large clump in the middle.


You can use any vegetable, just like you would with pasta. This dish is delicious with frozen mixed vegetables. The amount of vegetables is also flexible. You can use more or less. Here are some great alternatives to the grape tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and mushrooms I used today:




Avocado (will give a creamy effect to the pasta)




Bell pepper

green beans

onion (red, yellow, green)

To swap out vegetables, add them from softest to most complex. A hard vegetable, like a carrot, that will take longer to soften should go in the skillet first, so it has time to cook, whereas a soft vegetable, like spinach, should be added last so it doesn’t overcook.


Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is commonly used as a nutrient-dense seasoning for food. It has a yellow color, a light, flakey texture that mixes well into sauces, and a savory, almost cheesy flavor. The nutritional yeast is the star of the show for this pasta dish because it adds depth to the taste and tons of umami.

You can usually find nutritional yeast near other non-refrigerated health foods in the grocery store. Some common brands you’re likely to find in major grocery stores are Bragg’s and Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve seen several stores selling it under their own name brand, like Trader Joe’s and Kroger.

Want to see some other ways to use nutritional yeast? Check out our healthy yeast archives.


1/2 lb. linguine ($0.50)

Four oz. mushrooms ($0.75)

1 cup grape tomatoes ($1.25)

1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)

Four oz. fresh spinach ($0.50)

1 Tbsp butter* ($0.09)

1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast ($0.42)

1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)

1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.

While waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms and cut the tomatoes in half.

Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to the skillet and saute until they have released all their moisture and water is no longer pooling on the bottom of the skillet (about 5-7 minutes).

Add the tomatoes and saute for about two minutes more, or just until they’re heated (they’ll continue to cook more after adding other ingredients). Add the spinach and saute just until wilted.

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter. Toss until everything is coated in melted butter. Turn the heat off.

Season with garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, then toss to coat. Give the pasta a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If the pasta gets too dry as you tossing with the seasoning, add a splash of the water for the reserved pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Joseph M. Kay

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