Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce

A light Spring pasta dish the whole family will enjoy; baby shells are tossed with chopped asparagus and a light marinara sauce. Quick and easy, perfect for vegetarians or meatless Fridays.

Asparagus is in season, and I’m probably the only one in my house who truly loves it, so to get everyone else on board requires some work (or sneaking into their food). Chopping it real small and combining it with cute little pasta shells which hug each bite of asparagus works perfect in my house!

Having a toddler and a teenager in the house, I try to come up with quick and healthy, well-balanced meals everyone will enjoy because making separate dishes is not an option in my house. I always have marinara sauce on hand to use throughout the week. I make large batches of it and freeze the rest in portions in zip-lock bags. You can make a double batch of this sauce to use for other recipes throughout the week or freeze it for a later time. This recipe requires having cooked marinara sauce on hand, so if you don’t have any make the sauce as your first step.

I wish there was more variety in pasta shapes for high fiber and whole wheat pastas. If you prefer to use a high fiber pasta, low carb or gluten-free pasta you can use elbows instead.

Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1-1/4 cups Points +: 7 pts • Smart Points: 9
Calories: 282.5 • Fat: 3.6 g • Carbs: 52 g • Fiber: 4.2 • Protein: 11.2 g  

Ingredients: 

  • 8 oz baby pasta shells (gluten free use brown rice pasta)
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade marinara sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil about 4 inches of water in a large pot, when boiling add asparagus and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender crisp. Drain and chop into small bite sized pieces.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (you can use the same pot from the asparagus not to dirty too many dishes). Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan heat 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce. Drain pasta and RESERVE a cup of the pasta water.

Return pasta back to the pot and toss with marinara, asparagus, grated cheese, salt and pepper and a 1/4 cup of the pasta water or as needed to loosen the sauce. Divide between four bowls and top with fresh pepper and more grated cheese if desired.

Quick Marinara Sauce
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 6 Serving Size: 1/2 cup • Old Points: 1 pt Points+: 1 pt
Calories: 51.5 • Fat: 0.8 • Carbs: 9.0 g • Fiber: 1.1 • Protein: 0.1 g  

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I love Tuttorosso)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, careful not to burn. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and bay leaf. Stir and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer about 15 – 20 minutes, add basil just before done.