This month, we’re asking food bloggers to share their go-to fall pastas, and here’s a delicious and quick vegetable pasta from Melissa of The Fauxmartha. As the mother of a newborn, she says this dish has saved their dinner-eating life. It would make a great meal on those busy winter weekdays. Here goes…

Pasta With Cream Sauce
By Melissa Coleman of The Fauxmartha

Our newborn rules the roost right now. Holding, cuddling and feeding her seems to win over elaborate dinners these days. But we’re not about to compromise on flavor or nutrition. We’re in the market for fast dinners—30 minutes or less. So we’re simplifying meals, cutting corners and making our lives a little easier for the sake of a warm meal at night. (Although “warm” may be wishful thinking right now—she wakes up as soon as a meal hits the table. I swear she has a sixth sense.)

This pasta dish makes its way onto our table at least once a week, and has basically saved our dinner-eating life. We roast whatever veggies are in the produce drawer, lining the baking sheet with parchment paper to make clean-up easier. I love a good cream sauce but hate the guilt, so I use some of the leftover pasta water to thin the cream. As a bonus, the water retains starch from the pasta, which helps the sauce adhere to the noodles better. (And as you may know, whole wheat noodles need all the help they can get in the flavor-absorbing category.)

TIP: To keep dishes to a minimum, I skip the colander. A chef’s knife held at the lip of the pot drains the water perfectly, especially when you’re making smaller quantities. When you can prep, eat and clean a meal in well under an hour, these days, there’s nothing better.

Recipe: Quick Pasta with Lightened Cream Sauce & Roasted Veggies
Yields 2 servings

You’ll need:
2 cups seasonal veggies, chopped
2 cups whole wheat pasta
1/4 cup pasta water reserved
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus a drizzle for the veggies
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and add chopped veggies. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast veggies for about 20 minutes or until browned.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally.

Cook pasta. Drain when done, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water in pot. Skip dirtying the colander and use your chef’s knife from cutting veggies to drain the pasta from the water.

Into the pasta, add half and half, Parmesan, olive oil, basil and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat on medium-low until sauce has thickened and coats noodles.

Before serving, top pasta with roasted veggies. Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan if you wish.

Note: This recipe is super versatile. Think of it as a base. Add a couple tablespoons of basil or sun dried tomato pesto to the mix. Or, for a tomato cream sauce, add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste.

Thank you, Melissa!

P.S. More best recipes, including caramel apple pie and pumpkin creme brulee.

(Photos and recipe by Melissa Coleman of The Fauxmartha. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)