A quick and easy 15-minute Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta recipe with ingredients you’ll most likely have in your store cupboard or pantry. This pasta dish makes use of frozen Mediterranean vegetables for ultimate convenience and bags of nutrition. It’s simply healthy comfort food that the whole family will enjoy!
Flavors of the Mediterranean
Summer is undoubtedly on its way here in the UK, with temperatures rising by the day. So, I think it’s completely understandable that I’m craving summer flavors. And for me, it’s all about those gorgeous flavors of the Mediterranean.
This dish is packed full of juicy cherry tomatoes, sweet red bell peppers, tender zucchini (courgettes), and beautiful purple eggplant (aubergine). A plate full of bright colors that are so flavorsome the whole family will just love it.
When I first published this recipe in 2020 I was stuck at home, and I couldn’t get to the grocery store to buy fresh produce as often as I’d have liked. Inevitably, that meant relying heavily on the contents of my pantry and freezer to whip up delicious, nutritious meals.
Now, 18 months on, most of us are back at work. But, I still stand by the fact that this is a great recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights.
What are the Benefits of Using Frozen Vegetables?
- Buying frozen vegetables is convenient since they’re prepared for you. So, this recipe doesn’t require any washing or chopping of vegetables, making food prep an absolute breeze!
- Frozen vegetables are highly nutritious, often more so than their fresh counterparts. The nutrients in frozen vegetables are preserved because they are frozen soon after picking.
- As a bonus, frozen vegetables are often cheaper than buying fresh alternatives! I’ll take some of that penny-saving action any day!
Self-Saucing Mediterranean Vegetables
What makes this recipe so flavourful, is the saucy nature of the Mediterranean vegetables as they defrost over the heat of the skillet.
As the frozen veg makes contact with the hot pan, you’re first hit with a beautiful Mediterranean aroma. Then, as the vegetables start to defrost, they quickly become sticky and sweet. Oh, my days it’s good. And, it’s only just the beginning of what makes this Mediterranean vegetable pasta sauce so delicious.
Ingredients You’ll Need
All you’ll need to make this delicious Mediterranean vegetable pasta recipe is eight simple ingredients, plus salt and pepper.
- Wholegrain pasta. I use Garofalo Organic Whole Wheat Casarecce Pasta, but you can use anything you’d like. Whole wheat penne, fusilli, or spaghetti are all great options.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Frozen Mediterranean vegetables. Now available from most supermarkets, packs of frozen Mediterranean vegetables are often a mix of red onion, green, yellow, and red peppers, zucchini (courgette), and eggplant (aubergine).
- Garlic clove.
- Red chili (chilli) pepper.
- Fresh tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes or Roma tomatoes are both great options.
- Tomato paste (purée)
- Cheddar cheese. Or alternatively, parmesan cheese works great too!
- Salt & pepper
Great Ingredient Swaps or Additions
This recipe is so easy to tweak if you want to add a little extra oomph or simply want to swap a few of the ingredients for something else. Here are a few of my favorite ingredient swaps.
- Black olives for their mild and salty flavor
- Kalamata olives are great if you prefer a more sweet and somewhat fruity flavored olive
- Basil brings some extra freshness to the dish
- Chicken breast for added protein
- Roasted yellow squash if you’re looking for a soft, buttery vegetable that’s slightly nutty
- Green beans will do the trick if you want some crunch in your munch
- And what about a hit of lemon juice just before serving to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes and pasta. Yum!
How to Avoid Ultra-Processed Ingredients When Buying Frozen Vegetables
You’d think, if you’re buying a packet of vegetables its contents would be 100% veggies, right? Well, think again!
Frozen Mediterranean vegetables come in many variations in the supermarket. As an example, they’re sometimes called ‘Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables’, ‘Chargrilled Vegetables’ or ‘Mediterranean Style Vegetables’. Often, suppliers use unhealthy fats to char the veg and a whole bunch of other ingredients to “add flavor”. This usually includes some form of sugar like glucose syrup.
So, if you’re trying to stick to a diet rich in real foods, I recommend you read the food labels to avoid highly processed ingredients. Aim for a product that is 100% vegetables. And, if the vegetables are chargrilled using oil, a healthy fat like olive oil is ideal.
I am also using frozen chopped garlic and frozen chopped chili (chilli) in this recipe. These frozen ingredients don’t tend to have any added ingredients, so you should be ok there. But still, it’s best to check the label to ensure you are using 100% garlic and 100% chili. If not, you’d be better off using fresh produce.
What Pan To Use for Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta?
My favorite pan to use to make Mediterranean vegetable pasta is a large skillet, like the one pictured in the image. Cast iron pans get hot and stay hot with an even distribution of heat. Just be careful of the handles because they get hot too! If you don’t have skillet, a large frying pan or sauté pan will work just as well.
Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta: Frequently Asked Questions
To make a gluten-free version of Mediterranean vegetable pasta and still keep the dish full of minimally processed ingredients, there are many great gluten-free pasta alternatives you could try. Some great examples are spiralized zucchini (courgetti), red lentil pasta (made with 100% red lentil flour), green pea pasta (made with 100% pea flour), and chickpea pasta (made with 100% chickpea flour). I have tried this dish with all four ingredients and they’re all great.
The spiralized zucchini just needs warming through to replicate an al dente spaghetti, so no need to precook. Just add to the pan during step six detailed on the recipe card.
Lentil, pea, and chickpea types of pasta add a rich savory flavor to the dish which is just delicious. Just go easy on the salt because they each pick up the flavor of salt more easily than whole wheat pasta and your dish could end up very salty if you’re not careful.
Yes! This complete meal is great for meal prep. Leftovers should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container after cooling and within two hours of being cooked. Most pasta will last in the fridge for 3 to 5 days when properly stored. Always check your leftover food for signs of spoilage before you eat it.
Leftover Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta can be eaten hot or cold. To reheat in the oven simply place in a heat-safe dish, cover with foil, and bake for roughly 20 minutes at 350°F/ 177°C / Gas Mark 4.
To reheat in the microwave, place the pasta in a microwave-safe dish with a lid and reheat for approximately 5-8 minutes, gently stirring halfway through until there are no cold spots left. Microwave timings will vary depending on portion size and microwave settings.
If your pasta looks a little dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water before reheating to loosen the sauce.
When it comes to reducing body fat around the belly and obesity-related diseases (like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease), research shows us that the traditional Mediterranean diet can be particularly useful.
At its core, the Mediterranean diet is full of seasonal vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and olive oil is the primary source of fat. Animal produce, sugar, wine, and white potatoes are eaten in moderation and in very small portions.1,2
More Pasta Ideas!
If you’re looking for more real food pasta recipes, I’ve got a few ideas for you to check out…
- Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara
- Wholewheat Pappardelle with Sundried Tomatoes, Rocket, and Walnuts
- And, my Bolognese Sauce with Hidden Vegetables is great served with Pasta or a Courgetti
Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta
- 300 g Whole Wheat Pasta
- 1 tsp Sea Salt Divided
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 450 g Frozen Mediterranean Vegetables
- 2 tsp Chopped Garlic Fresh or Frozen
- 2 tsp Chopped Chili (Chilli) Fresh or Frozen
- 150 g Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste (Purée)
- 75 g Cheddar Cheese Grated
- ½ tsp Black Pepper Freshly Ground
- Boil the kettle for the pasta, prepare your ingredients and get your equipment ready.
- Start by cooking the pasta in boiling water, with ½ tsp salt as per the package instructions. You'll want to cook it until al dente which, depending on the shape, is usually about 8-12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, heat oil in a large pan, and add the frozen Mediterranean vegetables, garlic, and chili (chilli). Cook, frequently stirring for 5 minutes. You should be starting to smell those wonderful Mediterranean flavors now.
- Add fresh cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 3 minutes. This adds another layer of freshness and out of this world flavour.
- Now, turn the hob to a medium heat and add the tomato paste (purée) to the pan with the cheese, ¼ cup of starchy water that the pasta is cooking in, the remaining salt and the pepper. Stir, and after about a minute the cheese will have melted, and the sauce will have thickened.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta and pour into the Mediterranean vegetable sauce.
- Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Craving More Deliciousness?
You can also stay up to date with new posts and healthy real food recipes by subscribing to The Real Food Geek mailing list below.
Thanks so much for stopping by!