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The Truth About Eating Pasta Before a Game

By James Griesser – Lead Recipe Developer – HelloFresh Canada, 11/09/21, 10:30AM EST


Should players eat a carb-heavy meal before going to the rink?

Beefy Skillet Pasta

with Italian Dressed Salad

Pasta can be a divisive food when it comes to meal prep and young athletes. Carbohydrates are an essential form of energy for players and pasta falls into that category. It is a great way to create energy stores leading up to a big game and a meal like this a day before will help players on the ice.

This beefy skillet pasta meal from HelloFresh also comes with a side of salad. The dressing is oil-based, which is a healthier option than creamy-style dressings. Plus, this is a great way for kids to help with the meal prep. The salad also uses spinach instead of lettuce – a more nutrient filled vegetable that adds iron.

HelloFresh brings healthy, easy-to-make meals to the kitchens of busy hockey families that come with step-by-step instructions. Knowing what you'll be making and how long it will take is information valuable to anybody as busy as a hockey parent by creating stress-free dinners for the week.

This dish adds a twist to a family favourite and is easy for the kids to help out with the meal prep. With just about 30 minutes of cook time and six easy steps to enjoy, this is a quick recipe that hockey families can enjoy together.

1. Prep

Add 10 1/2 cups water and 2 tsp salt to a large pot (use same for 4 ppl). Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. While water comes to a boil, peel, then cut half the onion into 1/4-inch pieces (whole onion for 4 ppl). Peel, then coarsely grate carrot. Peel, then mince or grate garlic. Slice cucumber into 1/4-inch rounds. Whisk together half the vinegar, 1 tsp Italian Seasoning, 2 tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp sugar in a large bowl (dbl all for 4 ppl). Set aside.

2. start sauce

Heat a large oven-proof pan over mediumhigh heat. When hot, add 1/2 tbsp oil (dbl for 4 ppl), then beef, onions and half the carrots. Cook, breaking up beef into smaller pieces, until no pink remains, 4-5 min. Carefully drain and discard excess fat.

3. Cook rigatoni

While beef cooks, add rigatoni to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10-12 min. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water (dbl for 4 ppl), then drain.

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4. finish sauce

Add remaining Italian Seasoning, remaining vinegar, garlic, crushed tomatoes, 1/4 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp butter (dbl both for 4 ppl) to the pan with beef. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 4-5 min.

5. assemble skillet

Remove the pan from heat, then add rigatoni and reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then spread pasta mixture into an even layer. Dollop ricotta over top of pasta mixture, then sprinkle with mozzarella. (NOTE: If you don't have an oven-proof pan, transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish before assembling and broiling.) Broil in the middle of the oven until cheese is melted and golden-brown, 2-3 min.


Add spinach, cucumbers and remaining carrots to the large bowl with dressing. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Divide skillet pasta and salad between plates. Tear basil over pasta.

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James is the Lead Recipe Developer at HelloFresh Canada, the meal kit service dedicated to making cooking fun, easy and convenient. Fall into a new dinner routine this season and enjoy the delicious victory of a home-cooked meal with HelloFresh! Visit and use code OMHAFRESH to save!

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