This wagon wheels recipe, a new take on a childhood classic, is healthy and wholesome, and you can freeze it in small portions and take it to lunch without feeling silly. If you’re bringing microwave meals to work or cracking open a can for dinner, it might be time to kick it up a notch.

You’re a grown up now, and it’s time to eat real food, right? But every once in a while, a prepped meal is tempting and it’s all you’ve got time for. If you’re like me, during busy times, you may have reached for a can of condensed soup or pasta, for their simplicity and their healthy claims. All of our lives we’ve been told these soup and soupy pasta in a can were healthy, but the truth is that they’re fortified with vitamins because they’ve been zapped of nutrition.

Stop and really take a look at the label the next time you’re tempted. Aside from vitamins, what kind of nutrition are you getting from a pasta meal in a can? All those spaghetti-alphabet-number-or-letter “in a can” meals may make great memories, but are they really great food? Are they worth the 30-60% sodium intake? (Absolutely not!)

Filled with salt, preservatives, and softer as pudding, pasta-in-a-can is really better off left in childhood.

Get tomatoes in a can with no sodium added, or grab a few BPA-free boxed, crushed tomatoes.

If you decide to share it with others, only good things will happen. Making a grown-up wagon wheels pasta dish will impress your significant other, especially if they have bouts of nostalgia, too, and it will taste pretty damn awesome. Invite a few friends over, or share this wagon wheel dish as a family meal. And don’t forget that you can portion leftovers, too. Just make the full recipe and pour the leftovers into your food container of choice.

PS: The ale makes this wagon wheel recipe feel grown-up, and it tastes much better than a can of mushy stuff any day of the week. Especially if you’re sick or hungover.

Wagon Wheels with Tomato-Ale Sauce Will Save Dinner!!!

Yield: 4 servings

A great family dinner, too!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Wagon Wheels, Rotini or other medium pasta shape, uncooked
  • 1/3 pound country-style turkey sausage, casing removed, broken into pieces
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 cup of ale or beer, flat
  • 1 28-oz. can low-sodium tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 small bay leaf

Instructions

n a large saucepan, cook the sausage over medium heat. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add oil, onion and garlic to pan. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and add the reserved sausage. Simmer until the sausage is heated through, approximately 5 minutes. Toss pasta with sauce and serve with French bread.

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Image and recipe courtesy of I Love Pasta. Copyright © 2016 National Pasta Association