I knew they'd want something carb-friendly when they returned so I put together a vegetable laden cheesy pasta bake that was light and delicious. I was certain I'd made way too much of the stuff, but between the three of us, 80% of the dish disappeared, leaving a lunch friendly 20% for leftovers.
The celery may seem skimpy for so much food, but it adds a nice subtle flavor to the dish. I recommend baking this in a shallow large lasagna pan for best results.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
8 oz. penne pasta
handful of salt
2 stalks of broccoli, florets from both, long stem from one
1 yellow onion, diced
4 plum tomatoes
1 8 oz. package of button mushrooms
1 1/2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablesppon marjoram
8 oz. mozarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.
Cut up broccoli into 1" bite sized florets and thin 1/4" wide chunks of broccoli stem. Reserve the stem from the second stalk of broccoli for another use. It's important to get the stems thin so they cook in the same time as the florets.
Quarter the mushrooms and cut the tomatoes into 12 pieces by cutting them into quarters lengthwise then into thirds across.
Slice the celery VERY thinly. We want it to give up most of its moisture in the sautee and be more of a spice than a star ingredient.
Put on a big pot of water to boil. Toss in a small handful of salt so the water approaches the saltiness of the sea. Bring to a boil and put the penne in for 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Heat the oil in a big sautee pan on high heat. Add onions and let sweat for two minutes. Add the broccoli and celery and continue sauteeing for three more minutes.
Add mushrooms, marjoram, vinegar, and butter and stir together. The mushrooms will suck up most of the moisture. Sautee for 3 more minutes.
Add tomatoes, stir and sautee for about two minutes more. In a large bowl, mix the pasta and vegetables together. Salt and pepper to taste, though the pasta should add enough salt to the dish by itself.
Spoon the mix into the casserole/lasagna dish. Cover the top of the mix with mozarella, then sprinkle the parmesan over the top of that evenly.
Put the mix in the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and a little crunchy.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute or two before serving. It will be hot inside so be careful and don't burn yourself.
Goes well with a simple salad and a Spanish red wine (well, that's how we ate it, anyway).
I'll be walking the 5K while Rebecca runs the 8K, so maybe we'll both need another helping of this dish come April 3rd.