Sunday, May 17, 2020

Creamy Bean Pasta and Vegetable Casserole

I am a huge advocate of all the bean and lentil pastas that are now on the market. They serve as the "protein" in the meal as well as the "starch", so I tell clients you basically just need to add veggies to make it a complete and well-balanced meal (even frozen veggies are fine!). How easy is that? These pastas typically cook in 8 minutes or less, so they make for a quick meal when you don't want to spend much time preparing food. Furthermore, they don't have much flavor, so you can treat them like normal pasta by adding marinara, making into a creamy pasta dish, or even creating an Asian noodle stir fry. This particular recipe (below) eats like an indulgent comfort-food dish, but has been "healthified" by using bean pasta, lower fat dairy, and bulking up the quantity of vegetables compared to a traditional casserole. It's gooey and creamy and tastes like it's bad for you... but it's not! It's full of protein, fiber, and not a lot of fat. 

·         ~8 ounces bean or lentil pasta (such as Banza chickpea or Barilla/Trader Joe’s Lentil)
·         1 ½ cups 1% small-curd cottage cheese
·         1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
·         2 cups sliced mixed vegetables of your choosing (e.g: broccoli, peppers, onions, cauliflower)
·         ¾ cup plain non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
·         ¼ cup fat-free milk
·         3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
·         2 teaspoons whole wheat flour
·         1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
·         ½ cup 2% or part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Cook the bean/lentil pasta according to package directions; drain. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheese. Add pasta and toss to coat. 
3. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and pour pasta mixture into it. 
4. Top with the shredded cheese.
5. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. 
6. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through or broil on high for a few minutes to brown the shredded cheese. 
7. Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
NUTRITION FACTS for 1/4 recipe:
*Nutrient analysis conducted on Diet Master Pro software; ingredients are in reverse order (lightest ingredient to heaviest)
* Recipe adapted from Taste of Home's Ham and Noodle Casserole