Watching your weight, but craving a big bowl of pasta? It's possible to indulge in your carb craving and still watch your calories. 

Here are four recipes for hearty pasta dishes with less than 500 calories per serving. Try pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli, spaghetti with tuna and cherry tomatoes, noodles with cabbage, poppy seeds and pepitas or angel hair pasta with fresh shiso-herb mix.   

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PASTA WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI

Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 6

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head broccoli (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 links fresh Italian sausage ( 1/4 to 1/2 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound dried short pasta, such as fusilli, penne, or ziti; or long dried pasta such as spaghetti
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese

Directions: 

Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, clean the broccoli: Separate the florets from the stems and set them aside. Remove the tough peel of the stems with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, then cut the stems into half-inch cubes. Remove the casings from the sausage.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and crumble the sausage meat into the oil, flattening each piece slightly so it will brown better. Cook until the sausage browns and crisps. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic turns pale brown, about 5 minutes. Do not let the garlic scorch; if it begins to brown, remove the pan from the heat.

Add the pasta and the diced broccoli stems to the boiling water and cook 6 to 7 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes total. Scoop out the pasta and broccoli and drain; keep the water at a boil.

Place the skillet over high heat and add the drained broccoli and pasta to the sausage and garlic. Add one-half cup boiling water from the pasta pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the water mostly boils away, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Divide the pasta evenly among 6 warmed pasta plates and shave pecorino Romano over the top with a vegetable peeler.

Each serving: 406 calories; 15 grams protein; 62 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 12 mg. cholesterol; 263 mg. sodium.

SPAGHETTI WITH TUNA AND CHERRY TOMATOES

Total time: 30 minutes | Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients: 

  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound conserved tuna, plus 2 tablespoons of its oil, at room temperature (see related recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 whole, small, dried red chiles (such as chile de arbol)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 cups)
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions: 

Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a rolling boil and add the spaghetti. Meanwhile, chop the tuna (you should have about 1 cup); set aside.

Heat the fresh olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, chiles and fennel. Saute, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly golden and the spices are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes and the anchovies and cook for about a minute to break down the anchovies. Add the tuna and use a wooden spoon to break up the tuna and the tomatoes into a chunky mixture. Add the reserved tuna oil, red wine vinegar and salt to taste. The flavor should be sweet, fragrant and bright. Keep warm over low heat until the pasta is done.

When the spaghetti is done, drain it, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, and add the noodles to the skillet. Turn the heat to high, add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook, tossing the noodles to coat lightly with the sauce. Toss in the basil, season to taste with salt and serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings: 494 calories; 21 grams protein; 62 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 19 mg. cholesterol; 317 mg. sodium.

NOODLES WITH CABBAGE, POPPY SEEDS AND PEPITAS