>Healthy, Hearty Veggie Pasta Casserole – Freezer Friendly

>I had a request for this earlier and it’s something I’ve made to take to friends and neighbors in need of a little help.  It is a great casserole style pasta with lots of healthy veggies and protein that feeds a bunch or will freeze well for leftovers.  

1 box whole grain rotini or ziti
1 1b ground chicken
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
1 zucchini
¼ cup red onion
½ pint button mushrooms
1 package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and dried
1 roasted red pepper (I use the jar version in oil)
1 clove garlic
Basil leaves or basil paste
Tomato paste
Bay leaf
Olive oil
Fennel seed
Red pepper flakes
Salt and white pepper
Shredded mozzarella
Grated aged parmesan

Dice zucchini, onions, garlic, red pepper and quarter mushrooms.

Start by browning the ground chicken in a large skillet with palm full of fennel seeds and shake of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Do not strain. Halfway through browning add zuchinni and mushrooms and let sauté but don’t overcook since the whole dish will be baked.

For sauce: in a medium sauce pan, add enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan.  Add red onion and garlic, sauté until translucent, add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes and begin to simmer.  Add bay leaf, 2-3 chopped basil leaves or 1 tblspn of basil paste and 1 tblespn of tomato paste.  Stir in roasted red pepper.  Let sauce simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer sauce to skillet with chicken and veggies, add spinach to sauce and mix it all well.  Don’t forget to take out the bay leaf!

Cook pasta to al denté.  When done, transfer drained pasta to large casserole dish.  Add sauce over pasta and toss to coat.  Sprinkle mozzarella  over entire top and grate parmesean over.  Bake until bubbly and cheese starts to brown (at 350°). 

I think it would also be really tasty ‘Greek style’ with feta cheese baked in and just the parm on top. Enjoy and make it for someone in need of a helping hand.


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