The One-pot Puttanesca Pasta

By Jessica Kotlowitz

Since this month’s theme is all about mindfulness, and I have recently been studying mindful eating, I thought it pertinent to talk about feelings of guilt around foods that we or society deem as “bad”.

Mindful eating is all about listening to one’s body and being present without judgement. When we deny ourselves a food that we enjoy due to it being deemed as “bad” (this is a judgement we have placed on a food), we create a gap between our bodies and minds. A gap between what the physical body wants and what the mind deems appropriate. For some of us, this leads to emotional eating: where our emotions take over our food choices and we simply lose control. We then feel guilty for losing control and become even stricter and more controlling of ourselves. This becomes a vicious cycle and we continue to place judgements on ourselves and the food in front of us and then act against this judgement and feel guilty for it.

It’s so important to bridge this gap between mind, body, emotions and food choices and the only way to do this is through mindful eating practices which allow us to eat without judging ourselves or judging the food that we are eating. We simply observe what we are wanting to eat and then observe ourselves eating this food without placing any judgements on the scenario. For most of us, we are so used to constantly judging our food choices that this would take a huge amount of practice and I encourage you all to start practicing just a little bit each day.

Since the practice of mindful eating takes time to develop, I like to give my patients practical ways to practice mindful eating in real life and to enjoy all of their favourite foods without guilt. One of the ways we do this is to find healthy and satiating foods to “replace” the “bad” foods they might be wanting to eat. This isn’t exactly mindful eating but it targets the mentality of deprivation and allows you to eat the foods that you really want to eat and not feel guilty, thus bridging some of the gap between body, mind and emotions. It also allows you to practice mindful eating when eating these foods by observing your thoughts and behaviours around them. One of the foods that comes up a lot as a “guilt” food is pasta and I completely relate.

The problem with regular pasta is that it is made from white wheat flour which has been stripped of most nutrients and fibre and therefore has limited satiety value. That’s why when you eat this kind of pasta you can eat a heaping plate full without getting full.

Happy Earth People make a legume-based pasta which has only one ingredient: legumes. It’s the epitome of unprocessed and super high in fibre and minerals. Plus, it’s the only high protein pasta I know of, therefore making it extra filling and satisfying. It’s also great for those who are gluten intolerant or who struggle to digest or simply don’t enjoy whole legumes. Most importantly though, it allows me and my patients to enjoy pasta whilst nourishing our bodies and without feeling any guilt.

I created this recipe to be convenient (only one pot to clean!) and to satisfy all of those Italian pasta cravings. It includes lots of high nutrient veggies, high-fibre protein-rich pasta and enough healthy fats and is incredibly satisfying. There really is no need to miss out on pasta in life or to feel deprived when you have healthy options like this.



  • 250gHappy Earth People red lentil pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 200g fresh asparagus spears, diced
  • 250g sliced mushrooms
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeds removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 8 sundried tomatoes in vinegar, chopped
  • 80g pitted calamata olives, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:

  • A dollop of dairy-free yoghurt of choice (I use Utopia foods cashew nut yoghurt)
  • 2 teaspoons of dairy-free basil pesto (I use pesto princess)


  1. Slice your peppers, onion and tomatoes into large chunks and place them in your food processor. Pulse on high until it forms a thick chunky sauce. This will be the base of your pasta sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large non-stick pot, heat your olive oil and add your crushed garlic and chopped chili. Saute on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until golden. If you onions and garlic start to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a splash of water to prevent burning.
  3. Next add your mushrooms and a good grind of salt and pepper and saute for a further 5 minutes or until your mushrooms have begun to cook down.
  4. Now add your diced asparagus spears and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. Once the asparagus is sautéed, pour over your pasta sauce and add the olives and sundried tomatoes (along with a tablespoon of the vinegar). Turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent sticking.
  6. Pour in your red lentil pasta and stir through with the sauce.  Put the lid back on and simmer for another 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. It should be slightly chewy.
  7. Turn off the heat, add the spinach and stir through until wilted.
  8. Serve with a dollop of dairy-free yoghurt and some basil pesto. Keeps in the fridge for a good 5-7 days.


Source: The Green Dietitian

Jessica Kotlowitz is a Registered Clinical Dietitian who is passionate about the use of plant-based diets for the treatment and prevention of obesity and chronic diseases of lifestyle such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

Jessica qualified with a Bsc. in Dietetics from Stellenbosch University in 2012 after which she completed her Community Service year at Baragwaneth hospital in Johannesburg where she focused on all aspects of clinical nutrition, including Paediatric and neonatal nutrition, renal nutrition, surgical nutrition and oncology nutrition. She began her Master’s degree in 2014 and began to research the effects of plant-based diets in an attempt to find solutions to some of her own health problems. After losing 15kg’s and drastically transforming her own health with the use of a plant-based diet, Jessica went on to open her own private practice in Cape Town which focuses on helping others to achieve optimal health using abundant plant-centred diets.