NORTHWOODS COOKS: Healthy dinner recipes

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Pasta with prawns, asparagus and cream
Bring a taste of spring to the dinner table with a pasta dish paired with grilled asparagus and shrimp.
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Spring is a time of new beginnings. There are a wide variety of healthy recipes to choose from at These recipes are from their slideshow “30 Healthy Dinners to Make in April.”

Garlicky Pasta With Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus

1 lb. penne, preferably whole-wheat

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced


1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 Tbsp. lemon juice, or more to taste

1/2 tsp. salt, divided

1/2 tsp. ground pepper, divided

1/3 cup grated Romano cheese

1 lb. large shrimp (21-30 count), peeled and deveined

12 oz. asparagus, trimmed


Cooking spray

Preheat the grill to medium. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook penne according to package directions. Drain.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, cream, lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and the penne.

Meanwhile, lightly coat shrimp and asparagus with cooking spray and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Grill, turning once, until the shrimp are opaque and the asparagus is tender, 4 to 6 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop asparagus and stir into the pasta. Serve topped with the grilled shrimp.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta With Chicken

8 oz. whole-wheat rotini pasta

4 (4-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided


1/4 tsp. ground pepper, divided

1 Tbsp. olive oil

5-oz. package baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. water

4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks

3/4 cup reduced-fat milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

2 tsp. garlic powder


14-oz. can artichoke hearts, rinsed, squeezed dry and chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165 degrees. Transfer to a plate.

Combine spinach and water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and milk to the pan. Stir until the cream cheese is melted.

Add Parmesan, garlic powder and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, whisking until thickened and bubbling. Add artichokes and the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Divide the pasta mixture among four bowls. Thinly slice each chicken breast and arrange on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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