Cooking during the winter can be tricky for me. On one hand, I want something warm and rich to keep me full and satisfied. On the other hand, I am usually guilty of overindulging on chocolate and sweets this time of the year, so what I really need is a light meal. Well, this lightened up pasta is the best of both worlds.
I paired spaghetti with a creamy thyme sauce to give the dish the richness I crave during cold weather months. Then, I lightened everything up by mixing in zucchini noodles. The pasta satisfies my cravings for carbs without being overly heavy. To make zucchini noodles, I used a vegetable spiralizer. If you don’t have a spiralizer, just make zucchini ribbons with a plain vegetable peeler.
To further lighten up the dish, I used half and half to make the sauce instead of heavy cream. This is the first time I ever cooked with half and half, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it all turned out. I was afraid that the half and half might curdle when I made the sauce, but I ended up with a nice creamy sauce every time I tested the recipe.
If you want the sauce to have a strong thyme flavor, I recommend using about a tablespoon of dried thyme instead of fresh thyme. The flavors were more intense when I added dried thyme to the sauce. If you want to add more vegetables to the dish, try adding a couple handfuls of sliced mushrooms. You’ll want to cook the mushrooms along with the onions so that they can release more flavor.
This lightened up pasta with thyme cream is incredibly easy to make and it’s perfect for weeknights!
A mixture of spaghetti and zucchini noodles is tossed with veggies and thyme cream sauce to make this decadent tasting but lightened up main dish.
- 8 ounces spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)
- 1 pound zucchini
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup chopped red onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 1 ¼ cups half and half (use heavy cream if you want a richer sauce)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 3 stalks of green onions, sliced
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fill a large pot with water and add a few pinches of salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti into a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Trim off the ends of the zucchini and make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer or cut into ribbons with a peeler. Set the zucchini noodles aside. Peel the carrots and slice into 1/8-inch thick coins.
- Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the zucchini noodles start to soften. Stir in a pinch of salt and plate the zucchini noodles. Add another ½ tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. Add the carrot coins and cook them for about 3 to 4 minutes. Plate the carrots and quickly wipe down the pan with a wet paper towel or a tea towel.
- Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and cook them for about 2 to 3 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the minced garlic and frozen peas and stir for another minute. Add the half and half, thyme, green onions and a pinch of salt.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour and water together. When the half and half starts to simmer, add the flour and water mixture. Continue cooking the sauce until it thickens and bubbles in the middle of the pan, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and adjust the seasonings to your taste by adding more salt, thyme or some black pepper. Add the cooked spaghetti, zucchini noodles, and carrots into the pot and mix everything together. Serve immediately.