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Simply Relish | Using Up Veggies In A Pasta Dish

Inevitably you run into a piece of produce in your fridge that’s about to go bad. Reluctant to waste it, you ponder ways to use it up. Here’s a recipe that can breathe new life into a host of veggies to help limit food waste and make the most of the hard-earned dollars we spend on our food. 

This is part of a series,Simply Relish, about limiting waste and making the most of what we have in our kitchens to create simple and tasty recipes while reducing our impact on the planet.

A few weeks ago, I found a zucchini in my fridge and some cherry tomatoes on the counter that weren’t looking so hot. They weren’t moldy or inedible, but they also weren’t particularly appealing either. I was determined not to let them go to waste.

My boys love pasta, although we don’t eat a ton of it in our house. Loads of carbs aren’t really my jam. Every once in a while though, it’s the perfect blank slate to use up extra veggies or things that are on the cusp of being sent to the compost bin.

This time, I chopped up the tomatoes and the zucchini and sauteed them a bit while bowtie pasta boiled on the stove. I browned some ground turkey. Once everything was cooked, I mixed it all together in my trusty cast iron pan, added a jar of Rao’s Arrabbiata Sauce, and had a super simple dinner the whole family would eat.

My boys may or may not have eaten around some of the vegetables. J likes veggies but T sniffs them out and discards them from a mile away. We usually make him take a bite or two, but it’s not worth the fight. I focus on making sure he is exposed to them regularly, but don’t want to make dinner a constant battle. I barely touched a vegetable as a kid, and I turned out ok (I think…). I’d much rather he enjoy dinner time together and come to like food himself than feel frustrated that dinner is a never-ending fight with his family.

When it comes to food waste, I just can’t believe sometimes how much food we waste. Being more cognizant of using what’s in our fridge and having an arsenal of recipes that are good “zero waste recipes” can really help us waste less food (and probably eat more produce, as those are often the foods falling victim to our wasteful habits).

Here are a few other ‘zero waste recipes’ you might like as well that are really easy to modify to include a few extra ingredients you might have lying around that need to be used up quickly.

Vegetable Hummus Spread

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Eggplant Parmesan

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Granola Bites with Dried Fruit

Do you have a favorite recipe that helps you use up extra veggies or other things in your fridge? Tell me about it in the comments!

Turkey, Zucchini and Tomato Pasta

Turkey, Zucchini and Tomato Pasta

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 lb ground turkey, browned
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 box bowtie pasta, about 3 cups uncooked
  • 1 jar pasta sauce, Arrabbiata


  1. Cook pasta according to instructions on package. If using bulk, unpackaged pasta, boil in water until pasta is al dente. 
  2. While water is boiling, brown the ground turkey in a pan.
  3. Remove turkey and set aside. Saute vegetables in the turkey oils (or add a tbsp of vegetable oil, if needed) until softened. 
  4. Add turkey, cooked pasta, and pasta sauce to cast iron pan to heat throughout. Serve. 


Many vegetables can be added or swapped for the zucchini and tomatoes. Some options include peppers, carrots, peas, eggplant, squash, and more. Just remember that different vegetables will take more or less time to soften up. Typically, the softer and smaller the pieces, the less time they take to saute. Carrots, for example, take much longer than peas to cook, so be cognizant and add smaller/softer vegetables after the larger/harder vegetables have been cooking for a few minutes. 

Any ground meat will work or the meat can be excluded to make it a vegetarian dish. 

Use whatever pasta sauce you have on hand. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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