How to Get More Protein Out of Your Pasta Dinner

This post is sponsored by Barilla ProteinPLUS™. Find more on our sponsored post policy here. We believe in living a healthy lifestyle here at Fit Bottomed Girls — and we do not believe in deprivation. So, when it comes to creating a good-for-you meal, I tend to focus on...

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This post is sponsored by Barilla ProteinPLUS™. Find more on our sponsored post policy here.

We believe in living a healthy lifestyle here at Fit Bottomed Girls — and we do not believe in deprivation. So, when it comes to creating a good-for-you meal, I tend to focus on what I can add to it rather than what I need to remove. What tasty, nutritious ingredients can I include? What will best fuel my active lifestyle — and be so delish that I’ll crave it again later in the week?

When I find a recipe that hits all those marks, I know it’s a keeper. And this protein-packed salmon and veggie pasta dish featuring Barilla ProteinPLUSDefinitely a keeper.

A couple of nights a week, after work, I join a group run with some friends. And it’s great, because — keeping with the spirit of doing more — it allows me to get in a great workout and spend some time with my friends. But what’s less great is that it often means I’m getting home a little later than I’d normally like to start making dinner.

As you probably know, protein is a key part of any healthy diet, and it’s particularly important for athletes and other active folks because your body uses it to build and repair tissues, which is how you get stronger and faster. And, because your body doesn’t store protein in the way it stores fat and carbohydrates, you only get the benefits of protein after you’ve consumed it — meaning that, after a workout (such as a group run), you’ve gotta find yourself a good source of protein.

I’ve always loved tucking into a bowl of pasta and veggies following a run — it’s filling and easy, but it was always a little lower in protein than I’d like. Barilla ProteinPLUS has upped my post-workout nutrition game because this multigrain pasta, made with ingredients like flaxseed, barley, oats, chickpeas, lentils and egg white, packs 10 grams of protein in each 2-ounce serving.

While this recipe is by no means difficult, the prep does take a bit of time. So, if you know you’re going to need a quick, protein-packed dinner, I highly recommend making the veggies and salmon ahead of time — even the day before — so you can just make your pasta, reheat the veggies, salmon and sauce in a pan, and chow down. Or you can just omit the salmon and use whatever veggies you happen to have handy. It’ll still be a good source of protein!

Spicy Salmon and Veggie Protein-Packed Pasta

This recipe has protein from both the Barilla ProteinPLUS pasta and the salmon, which also packs those wonderful omega-3s. The brightly colored veggies add plenty of vitamins and nutrients — and you can feel free to swap out the veggies listed below for your favorites if you prefer. Also, if you’re not a fan of salmon, shrimp is a tasty alternative — and shrimp can be tossed right in the pan with the veggies if you’d prefer not to use the grill.


pasta ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used baby portabellas)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons blackening seasoning
  • 2 servings (4 ounces) Barilla ProteinPLUS Angel Hair

You’ll also need:

  • Large pot for pasta
  • Large pan for veggies and sauce
  • Cast iron skillet (access to a grill for blackening your fish is preferred)



  1. Heat olive oil in large pan on medium-low heat. Add red pepper flakes and minced garlic and allow to simmer for two minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice and wine. Stir.
  3. Add chopped red pepper, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms. Stir occasionally. Allow to saute until onions become translucent. If sauce begins to evaporate, reduce heat slightly (or add a smidge more olive oil and wine!).
  4. Add spinach stir everything together until spinach is just wilted, then remove from heat.


  1. Heat cast iron skillet on the grill at medium-high for 10-15 minutes. (You can also do this inside on your stovetop, but you’ll have a lot of smoke.)
  2. Sprinkle one side of your salmon liberally with your blackening seasoning of choice.
  3. Swirl 1 tablespoon of butter on heated cast iron skillet until it melts.
  4. Place fish in skillet on grill, spice side down, for 6-8. Sprinkle the side facing up with seasoning.
  5. Flip fish over and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until it breaks apart easily with a fork.


boiling pasta

Put water on to boil for Barilla ProteinPLUS Angel Hair* as you’re heating the olive oil. Water should be boiling by the time your onions are partially translucent — this is when you’ll want to add your pasta to the water.

*If you’re making your veggies and seafood ahead of time, do not make your pasta in advance — you’ll be happy to have fresh pasta with your reheated veggies and salmon, and no variety of Barilla ProteinPLUS needs to cook for more than 10 minutes or so.


Split pasta and salmon fillet in half and place in two bowls. Add desired veggies (you’ll likely have some left over), and scoop the olive oil/lemon juice/white wine sauce over the top of each bowl of food. A small drizzle of additional olive oil can be added if needed. Then serve and enjoy!

What are your favorite post-workout meals? Bonus points if they pack the protein! —Kristen

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