Lean Plate Club® Pasta Family Dinner


Flavorful, higher-fat ingredients can be part of a healthful, balanced meal when they’re used in small amounts.

Serve this Pancetta Pasta with garlicky roasted asparagus (recipe included) and a crunchy garden salad of shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes, dressed with splashes of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.


  • 1 pound thin asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed off
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade roasted garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne or similarly shaped pasta, such as Bionaturae brand
  • 2 ounces uncooked pancetta (may substitute 3 slices lean reduced-fat bacon)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce, such as Muir Glen or San Marzano brand
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped black olives (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


For the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Have ready a large baking sheet.

Rinse the asparagus and drain on paper towels. Transfer the spears to the baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and the garlic, then arrange them on the sheet in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the spears, turning them occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Cover loosely with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered somewhat and the pancetta begins to crisp. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened and the garlic is aromatic. Add the marinara sauce and cook for 5 to 15 minutes, to taste. Add the olives and capers, if desired. Transfer to a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and sprinkle with the cheese, if desired. Serve hot.


From nutritionist and cookbook author Robyn Webb and cookbook author Nina Simonds.

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Lean Plate Club®


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