RECIPE : Creamy Lemon Pasta with Roasted Mushroom, Garlic & Spinach Pesto Balls

I recently ate an inspired dish at Carluccio's which consisted of pasta, chilli, courgette and fried spinach balls. Even though it was absolutely delicious, it worked out to 20sp/17pp/670kcal per portion and was quite I challenged myself to come up with something equally yummy but a lot more economical on the sp/pp/kcal front.


My recipe uses roasted mushrooms and garlic with basil in the spinach balls to give a robust depth of flavours fit for a king! I've complimented these with a creamy lemon-zesty pasta combined with 'courgetti spaghetti' to help pad out the portion.
I think you'll agree that my creamy lemon pasta dish with fantastic vegetarian 'meatballs' is completely delicious.

In true Slice-of-Slim style, mine works out to only 5sp/6pp/approx.300kcal per portion and can easily be adapted for a NoCount or Filling & Healthy day.


YOU WILL NEED : (Serves 2)

For the Spinach Balls;

9 chestnut mushrooms
4 large cloves garlic
500g spinach leaves
generous bunch fresh basil
pepper to season
(I use garlic pepper or lemon pepper which is a seasoned, ground black pepper)

For Frying;
2 teaspoons olive oil

For the Creamy Lemon Pasta;

80g vermicelli
(uncooked weight)
(Swap for wholemeal pasta on a NoCount/F&H day)
2 courgettes/zucchini
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic
60g lightest Philadelphia
(Swap for quark  or natural low fat yoghurt on a NoCount/F&H day)
fresh basil leaves

half a fresh, chopped red chilli


To make the Spinach Balls;

Pop the mushrooms and unpeeled garlic cloves onto a baking tray. Spray with Frylight oil (I used the garlic variety) and roast at 200C/400F/Gas6 for 30 minutes.

Place the spinach leaves into a bowl. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes until wilted down. You can steam/cook on the hob if you prefer.

Once cooked, rinse the spinach in plenty of cold water. This will retain the vibrant green colour. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can and leave to drain.

Place the roasted mushrooms, peeled roasted garlic, drained spinach and basil leaves in a food processor. Season with black pepper.

Blitz until you have a lovely textured paste. I like to see the small pieces of mushroom dotted in.

Roll into small balls about the size of a cherry tomato. You should be able to make around 14-16 with this amount. Fry in olive oil to give a toasted finish. They are quite delicate and soft so handle carefully.
The olive oil really brings out the roasted mushroom and garlic flavours and gives a better finish than Frylight oil for this job.


To make the Pasta & Sauce;

Make courgette/zucchini strips using a julienne peeler or spiralizer. Add the zest of half a lemon.

Put the pasta on to boil according to the instructions on the packaging.

For the final 3-4 minutes of the pasta's cooking time, pop the courgette and lemon zest into a sieve on top of the pasta.
Cover and steam.

While everything is cooking away, crush a fresh garlic clove into a frying pan. Fry gently in a little Frylight oil. You could add a little fresh, chopped red chilli if you like. Add the juice of half a lemon. Stir well.

Turn the heat right down and add the Philadelphia Lightest.

Allow the cheese to melt. Add a little of the cooking water from the pasta to loosen it into a sauce. Not too much though!

Add the steamed courgette to the creamy lemon sauce. Stir to coat evenly.


To Serve;

Divide the pasta into two equal portions. Heap into each serving dish.

Coil the beautiful lemony courgette mixture on top and scatter with a few fresh basil leaves.

Finally, dot the fried spinach balls on top.


Tuck in!






Unknown 24 April 2016 at 19:34

I had this meal at Carluccio's too and it was amazing and thought about recreating it. Thanks for doing the hard work for me Janey xxxx

Janey 24 April 2016 at 20:05

Haha Jackie-I know it's amazing! To make it more like the original, you could just add chilli and garlic to the pasta and courgetti instead of my lemon sauce xx

Post a Comment