When it comes to speedy dinner recipes, it doesn’t get much easier than a trusty bowl of pasta. Lasagna, spaghetti, linguine, farfalle—we love the Italian classic in all shapes and sizes. Why? Well, you see, even the most novice chef can cook this carb to perfection. All you need is a pot of well-salted water, a little patience, and a nonna-approved recipe—from there, it’s all noodle slurping, right?
Not quite. As great as pasta tastes all by its lonesome, a lot of recipes tend to fall short when it comes to protein (here’s looking at you, penne a la vodka). And at dinnertime, when you want a meal that will actually satisfy your hunger pangs, a bowl of carbs simply isn’t going to cut it.
Luckily, there are ways to hack that typical pasta formula in a high protein way. These nine recipes kick things up a notch with cheese, beans, meat, fish, and more. And guess what: Spaghetti bolognese is not included!
Dinner Done Quick and Healthy: High-Protein Pasta Dinners under 400 Calories
Pasta e fagioli is a classic Italian stew that’s loaded with veggies, beans, cheese, and meat—AKA, it’s full of protein. If you can’t find the orecchiette pasta that this recipe calls for, opt for another small noodle variety like elbow pasta or ditalini. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 356 calories; 24 grams protein
This dish takes just 20 minutes to cook. Sausage provides protein and broccoli adds a hit of vitamin C. Again, if your grocery store doesn’t sell orecchiette, another small pasta variety will work just as well. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 284 calories; 17 grams protein
Per One Serving: 240 calories; 16 gram protein
Mac attack! The dairy in mac and cheese already provides protein, but a bit of chicken helps take things to the next level. Mushrooms and broccoli round out the meal. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 341 calories; 20 grams protein
This vegetarian dish relies on a pistachio pesto for protein. If you feel like giving it a little extra oomph, heavy cream is an optional (if caloric) addition. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 313 calories; 14 grams protein
Shrimp is an easy-to-cook lean protein and it takes centerstage in this pasta dish. If you want a little more protein, try sprinkling your bowl with parmesan cheese. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 376 calories; 30 grams protein
Greek yogurt is the secret protein behind this vegetarian pasta. Spicy Peppadew peppers heat things up while fresh lemon juice and watercress cut the creamy flavor. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 376 calories; 15 grams protein
Related: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
Forget, for the moment, the surprisingly low-calorie chicken parm, which is naturally high in protein, and turn your attention to the surprise beneath it. Those noodles pack their own secret protein punch because they’re made from edamame instead of flour. For now you can only really find these specialty pastas online, but your local health food store may also carry them. Bonus: Since they’re flour-free, they’re also gluten-free.
Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 344 calories; 25 grams protein
Back at it again with the mac and cheese. This one is completely vegetarian. That means all the protein comes from a heaping cup of fontiago cheese. Arrowroot powder gives it a bit of a fiber boost and Sriracha adds some heat. Get the recipe here.
Per One Serving: 324 calories; 14 grams protein
-By Audrey Bruno