Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Vegetable Pasta Bake

Photo of the bake made with rotini and no cheese

This wonderful pasta bake is a twist on the sweet potato vegetable lasagna that's on the blog already.  The twist was inspired by one of my friends who loves the original lasagna, but was short on time and sweet potatoes one night.  Thankfully, she shared the idea so we could turn it into an easier version of the more time-intensive favorite. 

I love this version, personally, because when all these items are in high yield in the summer months, I'm constantly looking for ways to use them.  Pasta is a good go to, and I just love how this comes out -- like a casserole.  It also keeps really well for a couple days as leftovers and reheats great!

This is a very flexible dish, too, I might add.  Use whatever veggies you have in your fridge, and use as much of the sauce as you want to suit your "saucy" preference.  Use cheese if you want, or don't.  It's all up to you -- even the type of pasta!  Just have fun.

Photo of the bake made with spaghetti and cheese

Summer Vegetable Pasta Bake 
Serves 12
Active time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes
Serving Suggestions:  With a salad and some bread.

What you'll need:
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti, rotini, penne, or any other pasta
  • 1 TBLS Olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped eggplant (1 lb)
  • 4 cups chopped yellow squash and/or zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (1 large) any color
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 8 oz package of mushrooms, chopped 
  • 2, 24oz, jars favorite marinara sauce (you'll have left overs)
  • 1 14-16oz block regular tofu, drained 
  • 1 10 ox box frozen spinach, thawed 
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded cheese (opt) 
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
What you'll do:
  • Heat some olive oil in a large skillet or pot.  Add the chopped veggies, cover, and stirring occasionally, cook them down until they are all soft (15 minutes).  Drain any excess liquid.
  • Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta al dente according to directions.  When done, drain and rinse in cold water. 
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine tofu and spinach in a bowl until combined.
  • Once pasta is done, start to layer!
  • On the bottom, 1/2 cup of sauce followed by 1/2 the pasta and a full cup of sauce.
  • Top with tofu and spinach mixture followed by all the sauted veggies and another cup of sauce.
  • Layer on the rest of the pasta, followed by a cup of sauce, cheese if you're using it, and line up the roma tomatoes so they look pretty.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes.
  • Let sit 10 minutes to cool enough to cut

Time saving tips:
  • Make your pasta ahead of time
  • Buy pre-chopped mushrooms if you can
  • Use frozen chopped bell peppers
  • Microwave the eggplant and the squash/zucchini for 5-7 minutes while you saute the onion/garlic/mushrooms.  Simply transfer them to the skillet and saute for another 5 minutes. 
  • Combine the tofu and spinach mixture with the sauteed mixtured after it's been drained and just use it as one layer
  • TOFU FREE note: apparently (from a friend) if you neglect to buy tofu, you can substitute filled tortellini for the pasta!

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