I was wanting something beyond pasta with sauce and was thinking I’d make some tweaks to up the veggie quotient. I used wheat pasta. Gasp! I never do that. Never. This was a good spot to do so. You can’t even tell here – otherwise, I really wouldn’t have.
Veggie-Loaded Baked Pasta
Ingredients (for 5-6 servings):
28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 sweet potato (fully cooked)
1 large zucchini, diced
1/2 pound wheat pasta (penne, ziti, rigatoni)
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup ricotta
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
In a large pot, add in the canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and mashed sweet potato. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
Chop then roast the zucchini in a single layer on a sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil for 20-30 minutes – until golden. Stir a few times & leave the oven on.
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Then cook to al dente, according to the package. When cooked, mix about a cup of the tomato sauce into the pasta.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon a cup of sauce onto the bottom, add a 1/3 of the pasta, then sprinkle with spinach and zucchini.
Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and a few spoonfuls of ricotta.
Spoon half of the remaining pasta on top, then add remaining spinach, remaining zucchini, half of the shredded mozzarella, and remaining ricotta.
Top with remaining pasta and some more sauce (reserve the remaining mozzarella for the last few minutes of baking).
Bake 40 minutes, covered.
Remove the cover, top with remaining cheese, and bake about 5 more minutes, until melted.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
I loved this! Count ‘em: sweet potato; spinach; zucchini. Plus wheat pasta. It is delightfully cheesy and flavorful without seeming veggie focused. The sweet potato thickened the sauce and added a bit of sweetness. It was leftover from the little one and I popped it into the freezer awhile back…not even sure what I was going to do with it!
Gnocchi is a fav to have stashed in the freezer for speedy dinners, such as this! I made a really quick sauce and really focused on this dinner being meatless and flavorful!
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
17 oz frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup chicken or veggie stock
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, until they blister and pop.
Boil salted water and add in the gnocchi. Cook until they float.
In a large skillet, melt butter and add garlic, and cream cheese to a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and add in the tomatoes and the gnocchi when cooked.
Simmer and stir in the basil. Cook for about 5 minutes to thicken and reduce a little.
Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.
I loved the slight creaminess from the cream cheese but the lightness from the broth. I think this is a good trick to keep up my sleeve!
Tip 1: use a slotted spoon to scoop the gnocchi out, then there’s no colander to clean. Tip 2: I had a bit too much sauce so I used the slotted spoon to dish the pasta so the excess sauce stayed in the pan.
I’m obsessed with the “bowl” concept for dinners. Do not get me started about the smoothie bowls…those I do not get it. I was wanting falafel and thought making it as a bowl over a bed of couscous instead of as a salad would be fun and winter comforting instead of cool and summery. I looove this for a weeknight dinner or as a build your own!
falafel (mix prepared as instructed – I bake mine! or warm frozen ones, or make your own)
couscous (prepared as instructed)
roasted red peppers
white beans or chickpeas
creamy caesar or greek dressing
Make or heat your falafel and cook the couscous.
Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and mix in a little Italian dressing.
Spoon couscous into bowls and top with falafel, roasted red peppers, beans, hummus, and cuke/tomato/feta.
Drizzle with caesar dressing. Enjoy!
I loved this for a bite of this with a bite of that. I’ll totally make these again. The dressing/sauce seemed necessary to bring it all together. A bite of this, and a different bite of that was so fun. Falafel is also a great item to make in advance to speed it up!
I’ll see you after Christmas! I’ll have some tasty treats to share…one celebration is cheese fondue I’m hosting, another is a day of appetizer grazing! I’ll be prepping for the NYE celebrations with family for bfast/lunch/dinner/and treats! Stay tuned and follow along on insta!
I’m back! I was just too crazy to blog during my busiest time at work. I’m proud to say it was a success and now I’m super ready to embrace the season! I made this Creamless Tomato Soup as a super quick lunch that I thought was especially nice after a filling holiday weekend. There isn’t any cream or bread to thicken this soup and the white beans add that element with the bonus of some protein. Now you just need a grilled cheese!
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1, 28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup red wine, optional
Saute the garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy pot, over low heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste, kitchen ready tomatoes, white beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Blend either with an immersion blender, or carefully labeled into a blender or food processor.
Return to the pot and add in the oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
(Optional: add in some veggie stock or water if too thick.)
Serve and enjoy!
I think the herbs make this soup.
Some of the most delicious things are not photogenic. This broccoli & cheddar risotto was so good but totally looks like rice-a-roni or something. I have looooved the pressure cooker and it is so great for risotto. It simmers opened for 4 minutes, then cooks for 6 minutes. Add a few minutes for getting to pressure and releasing the pressure. Done! Or, you could always make rice chop up some broccoli and add some cheese. Whatever works for you!
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 white onion
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup water or white wine
salt & pepper
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups shredded cheddar
Cook the risotto in a pot or in a pressure cooker, as you normally would: (Here’s my method via pressure cooker) or (Here’s my method in a pot).
I added in the broccoli to cook with the rice.
While is it hot, stir in the cheese.
At first I was disappointed the broccoli came apart, but then it was pretty great for a very evenly creamy bite. The texture was in the rice, and it was so unbelievably creamy. The little one was into it and it is still pretty addicting as leftovers!
Every veggie can benefit from some prosciutto! I loved the hands-off-ness of this side for a fresh & salty side. They’re just so easy and could easily pop onto the grill. I baked them since they were going with some seared scallops which were cooking inside anyway.
Asparagus spears (I doubled them per prosciutto slice)
Trim the ends of the asparagus and preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Wrap the asparagus in prosciutto at an angle. (I doubled the asparagus per prosciutto slice).
Bring the balsamic to a low boil in a small pan for about 5-8 minutes until it gets thicker.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning halfway. Cook until the asparagus gets tender and the prosciutto crisps.
Remove the balsamic from the heat and allow to cool to room temp where it will become syrupy.
Drizzle with balsamic reduction & enjoy!
It isn’t really asparagus season but I was wanting this and it was great. The little one gobbled some and had scallops for the first time!
I was totally inspired by this lunch-lady-dude on Next Food Network Star when he made maple bacon creamed corn to top with a crab cake. I wish it were time for local fresh corn, but we’re not quite there yet. Instead, this is the snazziest freezer-side-dish ever.
We grilled some chicken to serve over this sweet and smokey creamed corn. I couldn’t believe it…the little one gobbled almost a whole chicken thigh! He tends to choose the fruits/veggies/carbs over chicken but we just keep serving it. He had some regular corn and some of this maple bacon creamed corn.
The creamed corn took the same amount of time to cook as the chicken. Perfect!
2 slices of bacon
1/2 yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups corn
3 tablesoons of water
1/3 cup milk or cream
2 tbs maple syrup
Pan fry the bacon.
While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion and add the onion pieces and butter to a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Let the onions cook until soft & translucent ~8 minutes.
Add in the corn (mine was frozen), the water, syrup, and the milk.
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-10 minutes.
If using frozen corn, remove about 1/3 – 1/2 and blend or food process it a little bit. Break it down a bit without totally obliterating it. Fresh corn will likely break down a bit on is own.
Add that back in, stir, and then add in the crispy bacon.
Stir while cooking another minute or two. Serve and enjoy!
I loved the sweet maple-y bacon flavors with spiced grilled chicken. It was a quick & unusual side dish for us with some pretty easy grilled chicken thighs. I like a new thing to go with something hands-off/no-stress/straightforward other foods. It would have been ideal to have a sharp & peppery arugula salad with this, but this was what we could make happen. This family dinner outside was glorious.
One drizzly Sunday I was hell-bent on making corn & zucchini something. As in, there were already groceries in the house and I willingly ventured to Wegmans…on a Sunday…with the little one…after going to Target. I do love taking the little one on errands partly because he seems to enjoy it, and I want him seeing people/places/learning how to behave in public/knowing we need to do things beyond playing together. But let’s be real: most grocery stores are BA-NAN-AS on Sunday afternoons. Also, we need a rule against 85-year-olds doing their errands on the weekends.
Anywho, I got it into my head that it should be like a pancake-ish. Mine ended up being a little more eggy/fritter-y but we still got the little one to eat it. (he’s not so into eggs right now)
I loved these as a non-traditional side dish for our house. They reheat well too.
Corn & Zucchini Fritters
adapted from Menu Musings’ Corn Cakes with Cilantro Lime Cream
2 cups corn (I used cooked frozen)
2 small zucchinis, shredded & moisture squeezed out
2 tbs chopped chives (optional)
1 tbs fresh thyme (optional)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees (or warm a pan if frying them – I did both).
Mix together corn, shredded zucchini, chives, thyme.
Whisk the eggs and milk, then add panko, cornmeal, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Add the wet mixture into the veggie mixture and stir to combine.
Use a muffin tin, muffin-top pan (my fav), or a baking sheet and spray liberally with non-stick spray. Add the zucchini corn mixture and bake. Cooking time will vary depending on your baking vessel. I partially cooked by baking for 10 minutes to set before pan frying.
Or pan fry until crisp. I pan fried to finish them off for about 3 minutes per side to crisp the edges.
I liked these a lot! They might not be a meal you remember for life, but they’re a fun way to enjoy some veggies in a form I don’t have daily. They reheat well and could be made as mini balls with toothpicks as an appetizer! They’re pretty mild flavored and friendly for the kiddos or your favorite vegetarian.
Yes to breaded eggplant. Yes to Parmesan. Yes to puff pastry. I love all these things so I was secretly psyched for a cooler drizzly day to whip up this dinner. Ohh so good. I liked how quick these were and all the flavors I wanted while still feeling different. Puff pastry is so foolproof. Fill it with anything and you’ll have a happy dinner.
Also, let’s discuss my sous chefs: note how they flank where I stand at that neon-green cutting board. It is so nice they want to be a part of everything, but sometimes I just need some room. I fear the babe will think their names are Bailee Move and Windsor Move. They are cute though, aren’t they?
(for 1 sheet of puff pastry making 4 pockets)
~12 slices of breaded eggplant (3 slices per pocket)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the eggplant until crisped, flipping once. (I cooked mine the night before to speed it up).
Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut into 4.
Top with a slice of eggplant, a few small dollops of ricotta, some shredded mozzarella, and a slight drizzle of tomato sauce (not too much! it’ll get soggy!) Add another eggplant slice and keep the layers going…3 slices per pocket. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Pinch together opposite corners and keep tucking the puff pastry underneath. Cut a few slits into the sides to vent.
Bake 25-35 minutes. Check at 25 minutes – mine needed a few more minutes to get golden brown.
Enjoy! Serve with some tomato sauce for dipping if desired.
I really loved this. The crispy, buttery, flakey outside with the eggplant and all the cheese inside – ohh so great. The little one likes the breaded eggplant and gobbled it up a dinner and lunch in a row. Yes! Winning all around!
Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!
I know. I can admit. I’m caesar dressing obsessed and after making Caesar Brussels Sprouts, I thought it would be really good for roasted asparagus. It was! I jazzed up some creamy caesar dressing and added some hard boiled egg, but you could totally make your own caesar dressing. I loved it and could have had just that for dinner!
1 bunch asparagus
1 egg, hard boiled
1/4 cup creamy caesar
2 tbs grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1/2 tsp minced garlic
cracked fresh pepper
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Trim the asparagus then drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet.
Roast for 15 minutes.
In a jar, add caesar dressing, 1 tbs of parmesan, anchovy paste, garlic, and pepper. Shake well.
Lay the asparagus on a serving plate. Drizzle the dressing over the top, and the remaining Parmesan.
Chop the hard boiled egg and sprinkle over the top.
I loved this. The tiniest bit of anchovy paste makes this dressing so. much. better. Trust me, nobody will know what it is, but that tiny touch is necessary. Plus, it lasts forever in a tiny tube in your fridge. I love the salty, peppery dressing with the just-roasted asparagus and egg. It was such a great side dish and a sign that spring is on the way!