Easy Baked Penne with Vegetables
This is healthy comfort food. It’s about finding the balance of pasta, cheese and vegetables. The food that makes you feel at home, safe and grounded.
Paired with nutrient dense vegetables to nourish your cells and all elements of your body.
Best part is how easy this dish is to make and how rewarding it feels when you remove it from the oven.
USE WHAT YOU HAVE
This recipe was created for a vegetarian client when finding ingredients was challenging. They prefer more vegetables then grains and starches on a plate.
Imagine a plate with 70% vegetables and 30% grains. Those are the portions that make them feel good and satisfied. That’s why I amped up the zucchini, squash, mushrooms and added a leafy green.
I used less pasta then traditional baked ziti recipes to create balance. While maintaining the usual amount of mozzarella and ricotta you find in a baked pasta or lasagna dish, making sure the ingredients were organic, full fat and whole milk. The dairy provides protein and the fat will make you full and satiated.
This dish came out beautifully, and is a great recipe when you’re looking to clean out your pantry or fridge.
ADD LEAFY GREENS TO EVERYTHING
I add leafy greens into all my client’s recipe. Greens are pure life force. I used red chard in this recipe, as red leafy greens are more nutrient dense then other green vegetables. If you can’t find chard, feel free to substitute the following in its place.
- Green chard or rainbow chard
- Dino or Tuscan kale
- Baby kale
HIDDEN VEGGIES FOR KIDS
If you are trying to find ways to get your kids to eat more vegetables, then this recipe will serve you well. Hiding the vegetables with a little pasta and cheese will have them forgetting their eating so many greens.
It all mixes in together. They will love every bite.
If using gluten-free, brown rice, quinoa, chickpea or lentil pasta, be sure to under cook it by 3-5 minutes. It will finish cooking when you bake it.
If you cook it according to the box directions it will turn to mush. By the time you add the sauce and bake the pasta it may have turn to mush. I know from experience.
My go-to pasta is a quinoa and brown rice blend by Andean Dream. I use their penne and shells for most of my client’s dishes. When preparing a baked pasta dish or my macaroni and cheese I always cook the pasta 11 minutes (the box suggest 16 minutes).
IF YOU LIKE THIS RECIPE, TRY THE FOLLOWING
- Healthyish Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- Asparagus Mac & Cheese
- Black Bean & Spinach Enchiladas with Cashew Lime Crema
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- Roasted Curry Cauliflower Salad
This is healthy comfort food. A balance of pasta, vegetables and cheese. An quick and easy meal that is great for meal prep or when you don’t want to make a trip to the grocery store.
- 2 ½ cups organic penne or gluten-free penne pasta
- 1 bunch red chard
- 2 Tbsp and 1 tsp of sea salt, divided
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 large zucchini, quartered
- 2 yellow crookneck squash, quartered
- 1 ½ cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 3 cups organic marinara sauce
- 2–3 cups shredded organic mozzarella
- 15 oz ricotta cheese (1 container)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare pasta according to directions. For alternative pastas, undercook them by 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, blanch the red chard. Bring 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons sea salt to a boil. Chop red chard into 1-inch pieces, including the stems. Add to boiling water and immediately drain. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan, add zucchini and squash and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, sea salt and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss the penne pasta and marinara sauce. Add the vegetables, basil and half the mozzarella, mix well. Poor into a large baking dish. Create 6 wells. Scoop in the ricotta cheese evenly amongst the 6 wells. Top with remaining mozzarella. Bake 15 minutes, till the cheese is melted and browning.
- When using gluten-free, brown rice, quinoa, lentil and chickpea pasta, remember to undercook. Cook the pasta 3-5 minutes under the recommended time. The pasta will finish cooking when you bake the dish.
- Substitute the vegetables with others you may have on hand such as eggplant, spinach, and broccoli.
- Garnish with red pepper flakes and fresh basil as desired
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