Have it Your Way

Included Recipe: Pasta Pomodoro

When you cook your own meals you can make choices that serve your taste buds and calorie requirements. You don’t have to settle for what’s in the grocery freezer department. One of my complaints about prepared entrees such as Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine is that they are too small to make a filling, satisfying entree. That and they are really expensive for what you get and they aren’t very good, particularly if you’re used to tasty home cooked meals.

This pasta meal sounds so simple – because it is! But don’t let that fool you into thinking it is lacking in flavor because it most certainly is not! In fact, it has become my favorite pasta dish due to its simplicity and fresh, mouth-watering flavors. The pasta is a wonderful side to most any protein. My favorite is with these delicious little meatballs  and because it’s so quick and easy.

Pasta Pomodoro and Meatballs

  • 3 TBS olive oil = 360 cal
  • 1 onion, chopped = 55 cal
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced = 20 cal
  • 5 large roma tomatoes = 175 cal
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans chicken broth = 40 cal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 – 4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb Barilla whole wheat thin spaghetti = 1440 cal
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped (or 2 TBS dried, but fresh is better) = maybe 2 calories so forgetaboutit
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, optional (but very delicious) = 27 cal/TBS

Total = 2090 calories (not including Parmesan)

  • 8 servings = 261 cal
  • 9 servings = 232 cal
  • 10 servings = 209 cal
  • 11 servings = 190 cal

Rosina Italian meatballs = 40 cal each

To keep each meal just under 400 calories (or whatever count you want), decide if you want more pasta or more meatballs, thus:

  • 8 servings with 3 meatballs = 381 cal
  • 9 servings with 4 meatballs = 392 cal
  • 10 servings with 5 meatballs = 409 cal
  • 11 servings with 5 meatballs = 390 cal

Prep: 15 min + 15 min. cook time + 10 min. plating and cleaning up.

ready to cook

To make:

  1. Saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil til soft.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, saute a couple of minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth, salt, and crushed red pepper; bring to simmer.
  4. Add pasta (break in half) and stir it into sauce to cover.
  5. Place lid on Instant Pot, set to high pressure manual, 4 minutes. Quick release to avoid overcooking pasta.
  6. Stir it all up to “fluff”; add basil. Mix.

Divide into as many servings as desired, adding desired number of frozen meatballs to each entree (do not thaw except for meals to be eaten immediately). Cool and freeze.


Best if thawed before nuking to eat. Nuke for 60 – 90 seconds and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Time saver: During that 15 minutes when the pasta is cooking, make your salads for the week and maybe get some yummy mini-frittatas for breakfasts ready to cook in the Instant Pot when the pasta is done. The boiling water and steam will scrub the pot clean at the same time! How’s that for lazy efficient!

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