Veggie Pasta Bake

10 Jan

I whipped up another rather healthy dinner for us this week.  My goal is to try at least two recipes from every cooking magazine I get – in the month that I get it!  This may sound like nothing, but just try it – or just watch me try to do it.

I found this recipe in the January 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, where it’s actually called “Vegetable-Loaded Pasta Bake.”  Too many words.  I prefer my simpler Veggie Pasta Bake.  Josh and I both enjoyed this one, although I think he was left wishing he had said “sure, make some chicken to go along with it.”

It has kale.  This was the first time I made anything using kale, which smells a bit like broccoli, doesn’t taste great raw, and apparently is often wilted before being used in dishes.  At least that’s what you do with the kale in this dish.  I like how kale retains a bit of texture, better than spinach does when cooked like this.

Veggie Pasta Bake

Changes I would make to this recipe, if I were you (for a little more zing):
Increase the salt and pepper in the cheese sauce to 1/2 tsp each (that’s double what the recipe calls for)
Add 1/2 tsp crushed thyme and 1 tsp garlic powder to cheese sauce, after you add the shredded cheese

Veggie Pasta Bake
8 oz. dried whole wheat penne pasta (2 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 c. cauliflower florets (1/2 medium head)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
12 oz. kale, stems removed, leaves torn (12 cups)
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen whole kernel corn
1 recipe cheese sauce, below
finely shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350.  In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions; add cauliflower the last 4 minutes of cooking.  Drain; rinse.
2. In same pot, cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat 2 minutes.  Add carrots and celery; cook just until tender.  Add kale; cook just until wilted.  Stir in pasta mixture, peas and corn.  Stir in cheese sauce.  Transfer to 2 1/2 quart casserole dish (I used a 9×13 dish, which is 3 quarts and it was perfect).  Cover; bake 35 minutes.  Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes more.  Makes 6 servings.

Cheese Sauce:  In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter; stir in 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper.  Add 1 cup fat-free milk all at once; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Reduce heat; add 4 oz (1 cup) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese.  Cook and stir until melted.

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