Friday, February 29, 2008

Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta

Ask any Catholic on Earth, and they'll tell you that the hardest part of remaining faithful and practicing their faith is during Lent. Not only must you give up something you love for six weeks, but you must abstain from meat on Fridays. It's a pretty big pain in the patootie. I'm pretty flexible with meals during the week, and I enjoy a good, meatless salad every now and then. But on Fridays during Lent, something grabs hold of me. I start yearning for a nice, meaty cheeseburger. I get jonesin' for the leftover beef stew. I start drooling over turkey sandwiches. I begin bargaining with myself. "If I eat that ham sandwich today, I won't eat meat for lunch on Saturday." But in the end, I KNOW that I'll most likely skip lunch on Saturday, thus making my meat eating all the more sinful.

It's tough as nails to plan meals for Lenten Fridays that are homecooked and affordable. So far this year, we've been pretty neglectful of our needs. For example, we forgot it was Ash Wednesday so I made some generic pasta. But, Friday arrived and we didn't have fish, shrimp, or meatless recipes on hand, so we spent money on some shrimp takeout. It was delicious, but we can't afford that every week. The next week, I made pasta again for lack of anything better. Last week, we went out to Bennigan's with my in-laws, and again, we all had fish and other meatless dishes. This week, I was determined to avoid falling into the "Oh crap! It's Friday and it's Lent!" trap.

I think I did well this week. Graham didn't love the casserole, but I did! The vegetables smelled soooooo good while they were roasting. I think this casserole is perfect for a potluck, vegetarians, or Lenten Friday.

Recipe:
1 medium green or yellow bell popper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated.
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz. whole mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped fresh OR 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups uncooked cavatappi or gemelli pasta
2 medium tomatoes seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bag (8 oz.) shredded Italian style 4 cheese blend

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan or shallow 3 quart casserole, place bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sprinkle evenly with basil. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Drizzle evenly over vegetables. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Add tomatoes and pasta to vegetable mix; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender and cheese is melted.

Notes:


  • We used red and green peppers for this casserole. I love the way the colors look together, and I really do like red and green bell peppers.

  • We halved the recipe. The way it's written, it serves six. There are only two of us, so I halved it so we could use the leftovers. I used one of each pepper, one zucchini, half an onion (leftover from yesterday's beef stew), and one tomato.

  • I LOVED the way the vegetables smelled while they were roasting in the oven. I might make the veggies as a side dish some day. They were fantastic!! The dressing in the recipe was amazing. I use regular olive oil as a rule, not the ever popular 'EVOO'.

  • I was able to find the gemelli pasta in the grocery store, but I think that rigatoni would work just as well, if not better than the pastas in the recipe.

  • I added a little more olive oil to the pasta after it had been drained. However, next time, I might make a little more of the dressing and add that to the casserole when I throw in the pasta.

  • I really liked this. However, I did feel that the pasta was a little bland, but I think it might be because I'm so used to marinara sauce on my noodles and pasta.

  • I love seasoning my pasta, so next time I might add some rosemary to the dressing.

On the whole, this is a good casserole. However, if you don't like pasta, noodles, bell peppers, onions, vinegar, or meatless dishes, get yourself something else to eat! :-)

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