This Mediterranean Pasta is one of my favorites ever!
Growing up, this is a dish my mother would prepare, and still does, and I love how healthy it is while being extremely easy to prepare.
What vegetables are Mediterranean?
For this recipe, I am using eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, however, there are many more Mediterranean vegetables, such as olives, radicchio, artichokes, and broccoli, just to name a few.
~~ Looking for other vegan-friendly recipes that use a Mediterranean vegetable? Try this Broccoli Pasta with Chili and Garlic
While I am presenting this as a whole vegan Mediterranean pasta dish, very often we would eat this as a side dish together with a piece of cheese or a grilled chicken fillet, as well as only spreading some of the sauce on a slice of bread, so please feel free to use this sauce as an accompaniment to whatever you feel fits.
This eggplant, zucchini, and pepper sauce can be customized in many ways, such as:
– Eat it cold or warm
– Change the proportion of the vegetables
– Cut the vegetables in bigger or smaller chunks for a smoother or chunkier sauce
– Add herbs and spices such as chili flakes, basil, parsley, etc
– Add tomato passata instead of fresh tomato
– Include a green bell pepper instead of yellow and red peppers only
These are just some of the ways one sauce can be made to taste different!
~~ What about eggplant in a nice Indian Curry? Try this Bagara Baingan recipe!
Let’s talk nutrition!
Eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomato, onion, and garlic are all considered to be low-carb vegetables, which is great as these, plus a tablespoon of olive oil and a bit of salt, are the ingredients needed for this recipe.
If you’d like to find some more recipes that include low-carb vegetables or you’re simply curious to know what the most versatile and easier to add to your diet are, have a look through the article The 18 Best Low-Carb Vegetables | Popular, Versatile, and Easy to Cook and Integrate in Most Diets
In this nutrition section, I will investigate further what can eggplant, zucchini, and peppers offer us when consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Eggplant, or aubergines, although are consumed as a vegetable, are a fruit as they contain seeds and grow from a plant that flowers; this fruit is popular all over the world, however, it is mainly found in Italian, Middle Eastern, and Asian dishes.
Eggplant is mostly known for its purple skin, however, this can be found also green, red, and also black.
Eggplant is a nutrient-dense food, meaning that, although it is low in calories, it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This fruit is also a great source of antioxidants, which help protect the body from the damage that toxic and harmful substances may cause; these substances are called free radicals.
Anthocyanin is a pigment with antioxidant properties that are found in the skin of the eggplant and gives it its color; of the anthocyanin in eggplant, one is called nasunin and it is very beneficial as multiple studies have confirmed that this may effectively protect the cells against free radicals.
The fiber content in eggplant, as mentioned before, is quite high, meaning they may help prevent spikes and crashes of blood sugar levels, as these can slow the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar; the slow digestion of fiber may also be linked to weight-loss, as it means one feels fuller for a longer amount of time.
Zucchini, or courgette, is a summer squash that is versatile, high in nutrients, and low in calories; although it is consumed as a vegetable, it is a fruit like the eggplant.
One of the main nutrients in zucchini is fiber, which has a very important role in digestion and weight maintenance or loss, as it may make one feel fuller for longer, as it takes longer to be digested; furthermore, fiber may also reduce the possibility of one suffering from different GI problems.
Zucchini is rich in Vitamin B-6, which some studies suggest can help with regulating the level of glucose in the blood; this vitamin may also assist in protecting against diabetes.
Different compounds such as zeaxanthin and lutein are present in zucchini, which protect the cells in the eyes by filtering the blue light wavelengths; consuming sufficient amounts of such compounds may reduce the possibility of developing eye-related health issues, such as cataracts.
Peppers are another great Mediterranean vegetable low in calories and rich in vitamins, such as A and C, as well B-9 (folic acid), potassium and fiber, as well as multiple antioxidants.
This vegetable is extremely versatile as it can be eaten either raw or cooked and it can be found in many cuisines all over the world.
Some carotenoids that bell peppers are rich in, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, may be able to assist with eye health when consumed in sufficient amounts as part of a balanced diet; these protect the retina, which is the wall inside the eye that is sensitive to light, from oxidative damage.
~~ Looking to add more peppers to your diet? Try this Roasted Peppers, Baby Leaves and Feta Salad
How to prepare this simple Mediterranean pasta sauce?
This sauce is a great way of introducing multiple low-carb vegetables to one’s diet in a very easy way!
To start, chop all of your vegetables and keep aside; in a large saucepot, add a teaspoon of olive oil and add the onion and garlic and allow to lightly cook until the garlic loses its raw smell. This won’t necessarily mean that the onions are cooked thoroughly, but they will have the time to afterward.
Once the garlic is cooked (about one minute) add all of the other vegetables (peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomato) and some salt; mix well and add a lid on the pan and allow the sauce to cook on low to medium heat for about 25 minutes, keeping an eye on it and mixing when needed.
Cook the pasta on the side and add it to the required amount of sauce.
How can I modify this recipe?
This Mediterranean sauce is extremely versatile and it can be eaten as a side dish as well.
These are the main ways I modify it:
– Change the proportions of the vegetables: amend the proportions of the vegetables to suit your taste or to work with what you have at home. If you do not like one of the ingredients, you can skip it.
– Change the sizes of the chunks of vegetables: chop the vegetables in bigger or smaller chunks, depending on the consistency you prefer. Remember that eggplant needs to be eaten cooked, so if you like bigger chunks of it, all the vegetables will be cooking for longer as well.
– Use some passata instead of fresh tomato: this will make the sauce turn red and it will be tangier, but it is a great option for a saucier twist.
– Spice it up: you can add herbs of your choice to suit your taste. I like to add some chili flakes, black pepper, basil, or paprika for a spicier or fresher take.
– Add different vegetables: add other vegetables that you like to make it more personal. Green peppers, boiled diced potatoes, mushrooms, or celery are all great options!
– Eat it cold and add salad ingredients: eating this cold and adding some pitted olives or artichoke hearts.
– Cook it for longer to get a smoother sauce: The recipe as below allows the vegetables to still have a bit of a bite, but if you prefer a smoother sauce, keep on cooking it on a low flame with the lid on the pan for as long as you want, until the vegetables are mushy.
– Cook it for a shorter amount of time to have it chunkier: if you like your vegetables with more of a bite, cook the sauce for a shorter amount of time, but ensure the eggplant is cooked through! If this is the way you prefer it, perhaps try cutting the eggplant in smaller pieces than the other vegetables, cook it for a bit before adding the other vegetables or skip it.
~~ Would like to try other easy recipes with zucchini? Try this Lemon Zucchini Pasta with Crumbled Feta Cheese!
How to use this sauce in other dishes?
As I said multiple times this healthy Mediterranean pasta sauce is extremely versatile and can be used in so many ways; here are some examples:
– Mediterranean Pasta Salad: Dress some pasta that has cooled down with some of this sauce; you can add more flavors to it (or bulk it up) as per your liking, but I like pitted olives, sweet corn, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese or diced mozzarella.
– Mediterranean Pasta Bake: After mixing the sauce and pasta, put them in a baking tray and top with some mild cheddar cheese, mozzarella, or parmesan and bake until golden.
– Vegan Lasagna: Use this sauce and layer it with some lasagna sheets and follow the lasagna sheets baking instructions. You can add some vegan cheese in between the layers and on top as well.
– Vegetarian Lasagna: Just like the Vegan Lasagna, but use some dairy cheese instead, such as parmesan, mozzarella, or, for a stronger taste, some crumbled feta cheese (for a light feta cheese option, I use Apetina Light Block and crumble it!) . To feel fancy, add some bechamel sauce and parmesan on top before baking.
– Mediterranean Panini: Add a spoonful of the sauce to the panini and grill with some cheese if wanted.
– Mediterranean Wrap: Add a spoonful of sauce to a wrap with some cheese and freshly grated vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, and onion for crunch.
As far as vegan pasta recipes go, this is one of the tastiest and easiest ones as it takes less than thirty minutes and it works perfectly when following a low-calorie Mediterranean diet.
Cook this vegan pasta sauce in bulk and store it in portions for a quick mid-week dinner, or go fancy and use it for a Mediterranean vegetable lasagna!
These flavors bring me back home, to my childhood, watching my mom chop the vegetables while I was sitting at our round wooden dinner table my grandfather made; I can still remember the sun shining outside, our windows being open and the old ladies from the village walking around, chatting to each other and waving hello to everyone they crossed path with.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and I hope that while sharing this Simple Mediterranean Pasta with your loved ones, you get to build fantastic memories, just like I have.
~~ Love spicy food? This Lighter Pasta All’Arrabbiata will hit the spot!
- 240 g Dry Pasta I used Penne (8.5 oz)
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 Garlic Clove Peeled and Thinly Chopped
- 1 Onion Thinly Sliced
- 2 Zucchini Washed and Diced
- 1 Eggplant Washed and Diced
- 1 Red Pepper Washed and Diced
- 2 Large Tomatoes Washed and Diced
- Salt to Taste
- Put a saucepot on medium heat with the olive oil in it and allow to warm up; once the olive oil is warm add the garlic and onion and mix well.
- Once the smell of the rawness of the garlic has gone (about one minute), add the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes to the pan with some salt and mix well.
- Add a lid on top of the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium-low; allow this sauce to cook for about 25 minutes, keeping an eye on it, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. It should not be sticking, as the vegetables used contain a lot of water and the flame should be on medium-low, however, it is good to keep on mixing it, so the flavors blend well together.
- While the sauce cooks, bring some water to the boil and cook the pasta as per the instructions on the package; I have used penne pasta, which normally has a cooking time of between 10 and 12 minutes.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta (without over draining it) and add it to the ready sauce; mix well and adjust the salt level if needed. Mix well once more and serve!