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Family-Friendly Pasta and Veggie Bar


This pasta and veggie bar dinner was inspired by the fact that I had a small amount of a number of vegetables that needed to be used…and lots of different food preferences that prevented me from combining it all into one dish. I’ll tell you what I did, but it will work with anything.

pasta and veggie bar

Overview: I prepared one type of pasta…four kinds of vegetables…offered two kinds of sauces (one from a jar, one homemade), two kinds of beans (our protein that night) plus two additional add-ins and set it up buffet-style. As you can see from the photos here, our individual creations were totally unique…and everyone ate happily.


You can do this type of meal with any type of grain…any kind of vegetables…any kind of protein (chicken, beef, fish – great for leftovers!)…and any kind of sauces. So it never gets boring. I used the same pan to cook all of the veggies, cooking each in succession, so clean-up was pretty easy.

Preparing the vegetables takes the most amount of time. If you don’t have time to chop, defrost a variety of frozen vegetables instead.




  • Pasta

-Brown-rice spaghetti

  • Vegetables

-Greens (a combination of Swiss chard and kalealthough I didn’t tell my family I used kale because no one likes it.)
-Zucchini & onions
-Onions, peppers & garlic scape

-Garbanzo beans
-Pinto beans

  • Sauces

-Spaghetti sauce (from a jar)
-Sesame sauce (I made it from scratch – recipe below)

  • Add-ins

-Jarred chopped basil (This adds great flavor whether your sauce selection leans Italian or Asian. It’s also great on its own with no additional sauce.)
-Capers (from a jar)


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. You should be able to do a lot of prep while the water boils and then again while the pasta cooks.
  2. Cook the veggies. The short version is that I sautéed everything but the tomatoes with olive oil and a bit of salt. Specific directions for how I cooked each veggie dish are at the bottom!
  3. Rinse the beans. Rinse thoroughly under the faucet until the water runs down completely clear instead of any foamy accumulation over the beans. (Note: I buy organic beans in BPA-free cans to protect my family against ingesting BPA. I served the beans at room temperature.)
  4. Sesame sauce: This sauce is yummy on EVERYTHING! Professional instructions for sesame sauce typically tell you to cook this in a saucepan, but I just mix it up on the counter. The hot water makes it easy to blend to the right consistency. If you want it warm, you can microwave it for a bit if you don’t want to dirty another pan.

If you make this, please share your own photos on our Facebook page!

pasta and veggie bar

Below are more in-depth directions for the fun veggies I made for our dinners!


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