I just discovered a new favorite meal. It is like deconstructed stuffed peppers meets pasta and makes a baby. And the baby is beautiful. I have been on a mission lately to use up as much as I can from the freezer. Mostly because our spare freezer in the basement broke down and so I am trying to cram everything into my upstairs freezer, which is turning into quite the production. So we have been having lots of leftover soup, which is awesome! I am also uncovering lots of frozen veggies and fruits from the past garden season. The downside to a chest freezer is that stuff gets buried, never to be seen again. Until you go on a raid and find all sorts of goodies! I found a lot of frozen peppers, kale, and shredded zucchini, which led me to this delicious pasta bake.
I made this a few weeks ago and I am making it again this weekend. It is so yummy and perfect for this never ending cold weather. Not to mention it is loaded with veggies!! I was so happy to have all of my peppers, zucchini, and kale in the freezer. Yum, yum, yum. This would be equally delicious with eggplant, mushrooms, etc. Just throw in whatever veggies you have on hand.
Let’s talk about whole wheat pasta noodles for a second. Please, please, please give whole wheat noodles (and other whole wheat products for that matter) a try if you don’t eat them already. Whole wheat is so much better for you than white flour. The nutritional part of wheat is in the germ and bran of the wheat grain. The germ and bran have a lot of nutritional benefits including B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and fiber! Unfortunately, white flour has the bran and germ removed. This prolongs the shelf life of the flour, but removes all of those amazing health benefits. That is why white flour products get a bad reputation, there are no nutritional benefits left in it. There is nothing bad about carbs and wheat if they are eaten in moderation and if they are whole wheat!
- 1½ to 2 cups finely chopped, packed kale (or spinach)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 4 large bell peppers, sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, shredded
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 16 oz box whole wheat penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- ½ to 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, peppers, and onions and sauté until vegetables begin to soften (about 8 minutes).
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, kale, zucchini, and all herbs. Stir until well combined. Continue to simmer over medium low heat for about a half hour (until sauce begins to thicken)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes) you want the pasta to be slightly undercooked, because it will continue to bake in the oven. Drain the pasta.
- Mix the drained pasta into the pasta sauce until well coated. Pour into a large 9 x 13 pan, or 2 smaller pans. Top with shredded cheese and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble and brown.