Okay-I got creative today! I knew I wanted to use the fresh zucchini and squash I had here, and I knew I wanted to have pasta too--so I just started using my imagination, and poof! I had a yummy veggie & cheesy pasta casserole!
This recipe can be tweeked with whatever you have, and if you want a more lightweight version, just skip some of the butter I use and instead of the heavy cream, just regular milk should be fine. Same idea with the cheese-low fat should be fine! But I always say, as long as you don't eat like this all the time, go for it!! Life is too short-live life to the fullest-that means eat cheese and pasta!
Here's how I started:
I sauteed chopped (all bite size) zucchini, squash, yellow pepper, red onion, white onion, some shredded carrots in olive oil and butter-just until the veggies loose a bit of their crispness, but don't overcook it-not sure how long that took-maybe 8 minutes. Add salt & pepper-and my favorite ingredient-red pepper flakes-whatever amount is good for you-it will add an extra kick-I probably used about 1/2 tsp or so. Oh geez-almost forgot-after that was all sauteed-at the last minute, I added chopped cherry tomatoes and button mushrooms (silly me!).
While I was letting that sautee and stirring occasionally-I got the water boiling for the pasta-I used elbow noodles-but any pasta will do-I cooked it just until al dente (is that how that's spelled?).
This is a multi-tasking recipe. While doing those other two things, I was also preparing the sauce. I cooked some butter and then added a few T. of flour-cook that over low for about a minute-keep stirring. I then added about a cup or so of heavy cream (I warmed it in the microwave for about 45 seconds). Stir that in until all lumps are gone. I then added about 1/2 jar or so of marinara sauce, stir that up. Almost forgot-add some italian seasoning and garlic salt to the sauce!
Everything should be ready about the same time! Drain your pasta-but leave just a bit of water. Pour the pasta, sauce, and veggie mixture into one bowl or one of the pans you've already used (why mess up a clean bowl when you don't need to!).
Mix it up. Pour it into whatever casserole dish you like-I used a more shallow longer one-but the deeper ones would be good too! I grated fresh parmesano reggiano, but you could use the jar stuff. Then I sprinkled shredded mozzerella cheese over that. And...in case it wasn't decadent enough, I melted a little bit of butter, then mixed in some italian bread crumbs, and sprinkled that over the top!
Bake at 350 for just 15 minutes-and it's ready!!
Hopefully I didn't forget anything!!
Enjoy! It's quick and easy-although you will have quite few pans to clean up!