November 26, 2012 by Jason Rice MD
This is a great recipe to kick off this blog as it really fits the role of template rather than recipe. This is a basic framework to make a pasta bake that you and your little one(s) can all enjoy. This particular iteration has no meat, but I frequently make it with meat as well. This can be a little time-consuming, but it makes a lot of food. I like to make it on a weekend when I have time so that I have lots of leftovers to quickly warm up during the week.
16 oz Pasta (I like Barilla Plus due to the high protein content)
24 oz Pasta Sauce
1 bag of baby spinach (roughly chopped)
16 oz baby bella mushrooms (sliced)
1 yellow or sweet onion (chopped)
Garlic (about 3-4 cloves finely minced)
1 can of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 bag of shredded Italian cheese (I used a blend of fontina, parmesan, romano and provolone)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt for the pasta water
Boil water (salt optional) and prepare your pasta according to the directions on the package. Preheat your oven to 350 while preparing the rest of the components of the dish.
Put a little olive oil in a skillet and heat. Saute the onion and garlic with a little black pepper until the onions start to turn translucent. (Black pepper is a great seasoning in this dish as it brings out the freshness of the vegetables and reduces the need to salt the dish). Add the tomatoes including the juice in the can, and cook until the juice starts to bubble. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they begin to soften. Place the spinach on top of the other vegetables and cover the skillet. Allow the spinach to wilt/steam in the pan.
Place the cooked pasta into a 9×13 baking dish and cover with the cooked veggie mixture. Gently stir to combine. Add the pasta sauce and gently stir again.
Cover with the shredded cheese and place the baking dish in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy or cover and refrigerate for later. Enjoy!
(If you choose to use meat, a lean sausage is ideal. If your butcher carries it, I like to buy the ground sausage loose, but it’s easy enough to pull off the casings and crumble regular sausage as well. Chicken is another great alternative. When using meat, I recommend cooking the meat in your skillet first, and then cooking the veggies in the same skillet to save all the great flavors/oils that come off the meat.)