Have you tried the new pastas made from vegetables? If not, you should. They are made from chick peas or lentils and they are surprisingly close to regular pastas regarding flavor and texture. Plus they are full of health benefits — like protein!

My pasta Alfredo is a great dish to try these new noodles. It has a rich and delicious sauce combined with shrimp (or you can use chicken) and also tomatoes and spinach. The sauce is flavorful and has a slightly sweet flavor because of the nutmeg, which I love.

Even if you don’t want to use the new pastas, this dish is perfect with traditional noodles as well. Either way, this meal is a one-pan dinner that is sure to satisfy.

Belle’s Pasta Alfredo

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups half and half (fat free is fine)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ pound pasta (red lentil, chick pea or traditional)

1 (9-10 ounce) bag baby spinach

1 pound shrimp (shelled and deveined)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water for about 7 minutes, drain and set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and then gradually add the half and half to make a sauce. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk thoroughly.

Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Cover to keep warm. In a large frypan, add 2 tablespoons of water, the shrimp and the garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, or just until the shrimp begin to turn pink. Add the tomatoes and cook another minute. Add the pasta, spinach, and the sauce to the pan.

Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes or until spinach has wilted. Serve with a little extra parmesan on top, if desired. If you use chicken instead of shrimp, cut it into 2-inch chunks and make sure it’s cooked through before you add the tomatoes.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.brendastanleybooks.com.