Sunday, January 5, 2014

Creamy vegetable pasta bake

I am a big fan of "winging it" for dinner. Tonight I did just that and concocted a delicious comfort food masterpiece!

Creamy Vegetable Pasta Bake
3/4 lb. penne pasta
1 large onion, diced
1 c. frozen cut broccoli, thawed
3/4 c. frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. grated parmesan
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 c. sharp cheddar, finely shredded
1/2 stick butter, divided
1/8 c. Italian breadcrumbs
Dash salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease large casserole dish with 1 tbsp. butter.
3. Caramelize onions (2 tbsp. butter, medium heat, 10-15 minutes or until onions are a deep golden color).
4. Cook pasta al dente. Drain and remove to large bowl. (Do not rinse! You need the gluten to help the sauce thicken and adhere as it cooks.)
5. Heat mushroom soup, milk, and remaining tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once smooth, gradually whisk in cheeses until melted and thickened. (I've had trouble with melted-cheese sauces in the past. My tips: grate/shred your cheese very finely to avoid clumps and really add it in gradually--maybe 1/2 c. at a time.)
6. Add vegetables, mayonnaise, garlic, salt, and pepper to pasta and toss. Transfer to casserole dish.
7. Pour cheese sauce over pasta mixture and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes to absorb.
8. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
9. Bake 20 minutes covered and 15 minutes more uncovered, or until breadcrumbs are a deep golden brown.

This was a pretty hearty and complete meal, but we ate it with pan-seared chicken breasts. It would also be delicious with sautéed shrimp or even a simple slice of garlic bread. We will definitely be eating this one again!

As always, feel free to share!

More later.