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37 Light Pasta Recipes with Big Flavor

You can have your pasta and eat it, too. These light pasta recipes rely on fresh veggies and tangy sauces rather than heavy meat and cheese.

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Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad Exps Cf2bz20 48862 B12 12 3b 4

Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad

The heat, seasonings and appearance of this colorful main-dish salad are perfect for summer—or any time of year that you want to summon memories of sunshine. —Eileen Budnyk, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
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Gingered Spaghetti Salad

We love this chilled chicken salad brimming with colorful veggies. Make it meatless by omitting the chicken and tossing in more edamame. —Cindy Heinbaugh, Aurora, Colorado
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Asian Pork Linguine

Peanut butter, ginger and honey make an easy, authentic-tasting sauce for Asian pork and noodles. If I have fresh ginger on hand, I grate 1/4 teaspoon to use in place of the ground ginger. —Lisa Varner, El Paso, Texas
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Lemon Chicken with Orzo

Here's a dish that's light and summery but still filling. My kids love all the veggies...for real! If you like a lot of lemon, stir in an extra splash of lemon juice just before serving. —Shannon Humphrey, Hampton, Virginia
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Asian Veggie Glass Noodles

My mom immigrated from the Philippines, so we would often eat Filipino pancit, a well-known glass noodles dish. I took her version and added my own touches to make it easier and a little healthier. —Jasmin Baron, Livonia, New York
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Bow Tie & Spinach Salad

With pasta salad, it’s easy to change up ingredients. We like to add grilled chicken and pine nuts, and sometimes we substitute black beans for the garbanzo beans. —Julie Kirkpatrick, Billings, Montana
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Strawberry Pasta Salad

Bow tie pasta with strawberries makes a refreshing salad, especially with a little chopped mint. I multiply it for brunches, potlucks, even tailgates. —Barbara Lento, Houston, Pennsylvania
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Spinach Penne Salad

This healthy recipe will shine as is, or double the vinaigrette and use half to marinate and grill chicken breasts if you want to add a protein. Slice and add to the salad. —Benice Silver, Carmel, Indiana
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Sesame Noodles With Shrimp Snap Peas Exps165661 Th132767c04 24 1bc Rms 4

Sesame Noodles with Shrimp & Snap Peas

Stir-fries and busy nights are a match made in heaven. For a boost of vibrant color and freshness, I sometimes stir in chopped cilantro just before I serve it from the pan. —Nedra Schell, Fort Worth, Texas
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Vegetarian Linguine

Looking for a tasty alternative to the usual meat-and-potatoes meals? Try this colorful pasta dish. My oldest son came up with the scrumptious supper that takes advantage of fresh mushrooms, zucchini and other vegetables as well as basil and provolone. —Jane Bone, Cape Coral, Florida
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Light Linguine Carbonara

When we have to rush off at night, I make this speedy pasta with veggies and bacon. Serve with breadsticks or garlic toast, and dinner's done. —Mary Jo Miller, Mansfield, Ohio
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Gnocchi with White Beans

Here’s one of those no-fuss gnocchi recipes you can toss together and cook in one skillet. Ideal for a busy weeknight, it’s also good with crumbled Italian chicken sausage if you need to please meat lovers. —Julianne Meyers, Hinesville, Georgia
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Beef & Spinach Lo Mein

If you like a good stir-fry, this dish will definitely satisfy. I discovered the recipe at an international luncheon, and it's now a favorite go-to meal. —Denise Patterson, Bainbridge, Ohio
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Pear & Turkey Sausage Rigatoni

The sweet pear, salty sausage and creamy blue cheese are a wonderful combination in this dish. It tastes just like something you'd get at a great restaurant. —Debby Harden, Williamston, Michigan
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Shrimp Orzo with Feta

Tender, hearty and flavorful, this recipe is one of my favorites! Garlic and a splash of lemon add to the fresh taste and heart-healthy benefits of shrimp. —Sarah Hummel, Moon Township, Pennsylvania
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Spinach-Basil Lasagna

In the kitchen, my husband and I like to use classic ingredients in new ways. I came up with this lasagna one day and haven't made another type since. We love it! —Charlotte Gehle, Brownstown, Michigan
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Chilled Shrimp Pasta Salad Exps99826 Th143192b02 06 3bc Rms 2

Chilled Shrimp Pasta Salad

This chilled salad, along with a nice cool drink, is all you need on a hot summer day. It also makes a nice side dish for sharing anytime. —Mary Price, Youngstown, Ohio
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Rigatoni Chard Toss Exps75825 Sd2847494c02 14 3bc Rms 5

Rigatoni Chard Toss

I had to get my firefighter husband to eat more fruits and veggies to lower his cholesterol and triglycerides. Fresh chard and tomatoes add a lot of fiber and vitamins to our diets, but we love this recipe for the flavor. While he would never admit to eating "health food" around the firehouse, this dish is one of many that made his trips to the doctor much more pleasant! —Carolyn Kumpe, El Dorado, California
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Rosemary Shrimp with Spaghetti

I came up with this recipe on a busy weeknight when I was pressed for time. Now it’s my go-to dish whenever I need a quick, nutritious meal. Serve this with garlic bread so you can scoop every last bit of goodness off your plate! —Candace Havely, Sterling, Colorado
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Garden Bow Tie Salad

Originally a vegetable dish, I added pasta to this salad for family gatherings and church potlucks. Try adding sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes before serving. —Barbara Burks, Huntsville, Alabama
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Makeover Easy Beef Stuffed Shells Exps143026 Hcka2972497b10 01 1b Rms 2

Makeover Easy Beef-Stuffed Shells

Enjoy the convenience of this make-ahead dish or bake right away. Either way, it has half the saturated fat of the original recipe but is just as meaty. —Blair Lonergan, Rochelle, Virginia
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Spring Greek Pasta Salad

For a light meal, we toss rotini pasta with cucumber, zucchini and sweet peppers. Make this cucumber pasta salad into a main dish by adding grilled chicken. —Christine Schenher, Exeter, California
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Garden Vegetable Primavera

Although I enjoy this dish throughout the year, it's even more special when I use my garden to supply the vegetables. A splash of white wine and a sprinkle of fresh basil really add flavor. I have also roasted the vegetables and mixed in chicken breasts with scrumptious results. —Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland
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BLT Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This is one of our favorite cold pasta salad recipes. I first tried it at a family reunion, and it's become one of my husband's favorite dinners. Sometimes, we leave out the chicken and serve it as a side dish instead. —Jennifer Madsen, Rexburg, Idaho
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Peas & Pepper Pasta Salad

I often serve a pasta salad for a buffet. That way, there’s no need for a side salad. Any leftover pasta salad is fantastic stuffed in halved and cored plum tomatoes. —Ann Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts
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Vegetarian Black Bean Pasta

This was something I created as a teenager, back when I was a vegetarian. Now that my daughter doesn't eat meat, she asks for this dinner several times a week. —Ashlynn Azar, Beaverton, Oregon
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Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce

Perk up gnocchi and vegetables with a flavorful pesto sauce. If you don't have pine nuts for the topping, skip or substitute any nut you like. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Peanut Ginger Pasta

To get that luscious taste of Thai cuisine, combine ginger, basil, lime and peanut butter in a sauce for linguine. It's so good, we've never had leftovers. —Allil Binder, Spokane, Washington
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Thai Chicken Pasta Salad Exps43672 Cw143041d01 10 3bc Rms 5

Thai Chicken Pasta Salad

I combined several recipes to come up with my healthier twist on traditional pad thai. My version has only one-third the sodium of frozen versions you find in the store. —Beth Dauenhauer, Pueblo, Colorado
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Sea Scallops and Fettuccine

This luscious and lemony pasta dish is so easy, it's become one of our weekly meal mainstays. But it's also elegant enough to serve to guests. —Donna Thompson, Laramie, Wyoming
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Orzo with Peppers & Spinach

Sweet bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, which helps the body fight infection and absorb folate and iron. And what bright flavor and color! —Tammi Kettenbach, Jerseyville, Illinois
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Modern Waldorf Salad

A Waldorf salad inspired my pasta dish. I use smoked turkey, apples, strawberries and orecchiette. Rotisserie chicken and other fruits would also taste fabulous. —Sonya Labbe, West Hollywood, California
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Thai Shrimp Pasta

I came up with this recipe while my son was home from the Navy. He loves Thai food, and I wanted to make something special but simple. There wasn’t a noodle left in the bowl. —Jana Rippee, Casa Grande, Arizona
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Garlic Shrimp Orzo Salad Exps168762 Cw132791b04 23 1b Rms 4

Garlic Shrimp & Orzo Salad

I enjoy cold pasta salads and rice salads, so I decided to make one with orzo, a rice-shaped pasta. Feel free to add other favorite veggies—like asparagus and green beans—and serve with rolls or pita bread.—Valonda Seward, Coarsegold, California
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Lemon Spaghetti

My family loves everything lemon and everything pasta. So when I came across this recipe, it was an instant favorite. The refreshing flavor is especially good with seafood. —Cori Cooper, Boise, Idaho
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Reuben Pasta Salad

I took this salad to a neighbor's party that included a houseful of teachers. The dish was graded an A+! It's a standout for Oktoberfest, too. —Nichole Fischer, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Shells

This is my own personal recipe. I'm very proud of it because I am still a beginner cook and it was the first recipe I created. You can adjust it to your liking by doubling the spinach or adding some meat. —Laci Hooten, McKinney, Texas

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."

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