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I had a new culinary revelation….  are you ready for this?  Creamy pasta sauce can be made without heavy cream!  So incredibly amazing, that I’m sure you all want to run laps outside around your house jumping for joy.  Well, at least I did.   (My neighbors don’t question my behavior anymore after gardening in my pajamas a few days ago.)

Back to the pasta now.  This recipe is super simple for a weeknight, but white tablecloth, restaurant quality.  The secret to a no butter or cream sauce is white beans and goat cheese.  If you prefer a milder cheese to the distinct flavor of goat cheese, than any soft variety like feta will do.  The roasted red peppers give a beautiful red, orange color and smoky flavor to the rich healthy sauce.  Would be excellent on grilled chicken breasts or with a lean steak too.

Feel free to add different vegetables or a mixture of them.  I found some great baby zucchini at the store so I threw them in, but any vegetable will do here.  And if not a shrimp lover, toss in some shredded, or grilled chicken breast.  Gluten-free options available below.

Creamy Red Pepper Pasta with Roasted Shrimp & Zucchini

serves 8

  • 1 lb LARGE SHRIMP, FRESH or FROZEN (thawed), peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 3 medium ZUCCHINI, sliced
  • 3 tsp OLIVE OIL, EXTRA VIRGIN
  • 1 lb WHOLE WHEAT or BROWN RICE ROTINI PASTA (any short cut pasta works)
  • 15.5 oz GREAT NORTHERN WHITE BEANS (1 can) rinsed & drained
  • 3 cloves GARLIC, minced
  • 4 oz SOFT GOAT or FETA CHEESE
  • 1 cup ROASTED RED PEPPERS, store-bought or homemade
  • SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
  • 1 tsp OLIVE OIL, EXTRA VIRGIN
  • 1/2 LEMON, zest & juice
  • 1/3 cup BASIL, FRESH, chiffonade or sliced
  • 1/4 cup PARSLEY, FRESH, chopped

Gluten-free options: Use brown rice pasta and double check your cheese and roasted red pepper ingredients (if store-bought).

  1. Heat water for pasta in a large pot to boil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place zucchini on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle zucchini with 2 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper; toss with hands to coat and layer evenly on foil. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they start to caramelize. The last 2-3 minutes of zucchini roasting time, add shrimp with an additional 1 tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.I was a little lazy and thawed precooked, prepared frozen shrimp.  And removed the tails.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving a little pasta cooking water for sauce.
  4. For the sauce, in a blender add beans, roasted red peppers, 1 tsp olive oil, lemon juice, zest, goat or feta cheese (crumbled), garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Makes about 2 cups.
  5. Place drained, hot pasta back in the cooking pot; toss with red pepper sauce, roasted shrimp and zucchini. Add salt, pepper and starchy cooking liquid (to thin the sauce) if needed. Gently stir in fresh basil and parsley. Serves 8.  Serving size: about 1 ½ cups pasta. Serve with a big green salad.

VARIATIONS: Use any favorite vegetable or vegetable mixture.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING: 400 calories, 8g fat, 3.5g sat fat, 115mg cholesterol, 56g carb, 8g fiber, 6g sugar, 23g protein

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