Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Penne Summer Veggie Bake

I had the most overwhelming day this past week. I'm a planner by nature. I have a calendar that hangs up in the kitchen, and everything from doctor appointments to birthday parties and BBQ with friends are written down. So, when things come up that are unexpected and last minute, I can get a little overwhelmed because...they weren't on the calendar! That might be a good thing for me to work on...going with the flow and not freaking out when things don't go exactly as planned.

The icing on the cake that day though, was running out of gas (which has never happened to me before) on our way to swim practice. As Scarlett O'Hara says in Gone with the Wind, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

One of my unexpected things that day was making a meal for a friend who is undergoing a round of chemo therapy treatments. Thankfully, that wasn't stressful (more therapeutic than anything), because I enjoy cooking and I had this awesome recipe that I knew would be perfect to double up on and make a good on-the-go meal. It is super fast to make, healthy, and delicious. You can easily substitute with your choice of veggies like peas, corn, eggplant, roasted bell pepper; get creative! 

I made this dinner in a large 12-inch cast-iron skillet since it goes from stove-top to oven so easily, and my husband appreciated that there were less dishes for him to do afterwards! Enjoy!

**This recipe is a Cooking Light recipe. See the original recipe HERE.
Pasta Recipe
Makes:4-6 servings Prep: 20 minutes  Cooking Time: 15 minutes

8 oz uncooked Penne pasta
1 TB olive oil
2 cups (2-3) yellow squash, chopped
2 cups (2-3) zucchini, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
2 TB fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried), chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt, divided
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten

1. Boil pasta for 7 minutes, or according to pasta directions till al dente. 
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add squash, zucchini and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato and garlic, sauté for 3 minutes.
4. Remove pan from heat, and stir in pasta, 1/2 c cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, and red pepper.
5. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 tsp salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture.
6. Spoon pasta into a 8-inch square pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese on top, and bake for 15 minutes.
Who likes to change it up?

~Use a different type of cheese like Mozarella, gruyere, swiss or havarti.
~Replace squash and zucchini with peas, corn, green beans, broccoli, etc.
~Add some smoked paprika, cayenne, or chipotle chili powder for a little extra heat.
~Try shell pasta, ziti, rotini, or any other kind of bite sized pasta.
~Chop up sun-dried tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.

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