Baked penne is one of those classic comfort foods and a great way to sneak vegetables into your family dinner. The key to this delicious and nutritious vegetarian casserole is the chunky vegetable pasta sauce. While I used Catelli Garden Select Six Vegetable Recipe Pasta Sauce from a jar, you can easily substitute your favourite homemade pasta sauce – just be sure to include lots of chunky veggies like carrots, zucchini and peppers. If your family prefers a little spice, add some paprika to this dish to really make it zesty, but if you have little ones at home they might prefer the blander version.
This is another easy vegetarian casserole recipe for freezing or taking to a potluck. It can also be doubled or tripled and makes a simple addition to your family’s freezer cooking menu. If you want extra protein, add some chopped tofu to the pan with your garlic and onions, or mix in a cup of shredded cooked chicken with the penne noodles and fresh basil.
Hope you and yours love this recipe as much as my family does.
700 grams of penne (about 3/4 of a 900 gram bag works well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cooking onion
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 700 ml jar Catelli Garden Select Six Vegetable Recipe Pasta Sauce
2 cups shredded low-fat Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a large pot with water and boil the penne noodles. While they are cooking, grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. In another large pot, brown the garlic and onion in olive oil. Add the flour to the garlic and onion, stirring constantly for two to three minutes until the flour is boiling. Slowly add the milk and salt, stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This is your white sauce. It should only take about four minutes for the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat.
Drain the penne noodles and pour them into a bowl. Mix in the egg and the white sauce. Pour the Pasta Sauce into a medium bowl and mix in the dried oregano and chopped fresh basil. (You can use two tablespoons of dried basil if you don’t have the fresh stuff on hand. But seriously, get a basil plant for your kitchen – SO worthwhile.) Mix in the red wine vinegar, then pour about three quarters of the Pasta Sauce mixture into the large bowl, blending with the penne. Add 1 cup of the shredded low-fat Mozzarella Cheese, and blend well. Pour the pasta noodle and sauce mixture out of the large bowl and into the prepared baking dish. Spread the leftover Six Vegetable Recipe Pasta Sauce over the top (use the back of a large spoon to spread it neatly) and top with the remaining Mozzarella Cheese and Parmesan cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes. This recipe serves 6 – 8 adults and is a kid pleasing recipe too!