Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Baked Penne Florentine with Tomato Creme Sauce...YUM!

Recently I read that one of the many ways you can save money on your grocery bill is by adding a few meatless meals to your dinner repertoire.  I've been a vegetarian for about a year and a half so my family is used to me throwing in a few non meat meals now and then.  I'm not hard-core, I'll eat fish and seafood.  I've even had soup that I think was probably made with chicken stock now and then.  At first I thought I'd miss a fresh juicy homemade grilled cheeseburger or a fillet Mignon when we went out to dinner.  Surprisingly I don't at all and most of the time I get more then a little yuckified when making dinner for my family with meat.

I've been experimenting with ideas in my head for meals that would satisfy ALL of my family and would still be meatless.  One day while planning dinner I had decided to make baked penne.  I usually would saute' some 97/3 ground beef ( save any drippings for my doggies! ;-)  ). Mix in the penne some mozzarella and a variety of different flavored spaghetti sauces and top it with more mozzarella and bake. Everyone was always happy but me.  So I got to thinking about it and I noticed I had a big ol' bag of fresh baby spinach in the fridge.  I did some brainstorming, that's a lot for a dyed blonde Polish girl (all tongue in cheek please I'm just teasing).  I mixed the cooked penne with a tub of skim ricotta and the whole bag of spinach.  Then I mixed up a couple varieties of sauce together including a jar of garlic flavored Alfredo.  You know like, spicy pepper and garlic and onion and whatever else I had in the pantry. The pivotal ingredient is the ALFREDO!  It makes all the difference!  I then mixed it all together while throwing in a little mozzarella and a tablespoon of fresh minced garlic.  I topped it with mozzarella.I don't have proportions for you cause I just make it.  For a single casserole I'd say 1 bag spinach, I box penne, 4 cup mozz. smaller container ricotta 1 Alfredo and maybe 2 regular sauces.    Let me tell you...my family thinks Heaven on a plate was made that day.  I've made it too many times to count now in the past year and I thought to myself, "self, you might want to share this goodness with the world".  So I am. You just bake it at 350 till it's brown and bubbly.  Now I'm not saying this has never been made before.  And I totally made up that name because it sounds exciting and gourmet but I've never seen the recipe anywhere before.  Try it.  You'll probably like it and you most likely won't miss the $$meat$$.  
This pic is from a double batch, it's easy to double!

* funny story...one day I was making it and my Dad was here working on one of our cars so I made him his own casserole to take home.  Now let me tell you my father is as crotchety as they come and a compliment rarely passes his lips.  As I'm handing him the hot baked dish, he complained and said he didn't want it because he already had something in the crock pot at home.  So I told him to eat it the next night.  About 45 minutes later he called and said, "Rob, that was the best pasta I've ever had!" Surprised and speechless I don't think any real word came out of my mouth. Next he says, "next time put some ground beef, Italian sausage and pepperoni in it and it would be even better!" Obviously he doesn't get the meatless thing.

So there you go you can make it my way or my Dad's way!  Let me know if you try it out!


Rene Foust said...

Hi Robyn I am so glad you are back I have been worried about you and have been wondering how you are. The pasta looks amazing and it is just the way I prefer to eat my food. I am not a vegetarian completely but I sure can live with out it.

Anonymous said...

Cool! That’s a really great idea minimizing from beef and pork, right? I mean vegetables are really good for the body. Often times we enjoy eating food filled with cholesterol. I think this is a positive shift from hazardous to health! Just kidding! But it’s true, so keep it up!

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