I so enjoyed the Creamy Vegetable Pasta Bake I made recently, both because it was delicious and because I could pull a serving out of the freezer and have an instant warm meal. When it was gone, I didn’t imagine making it again so soon, but it’s a great way to use 4 cups of milk, zucchini and onion that I picked up without a real plan, and frozen broccoli and spinach for a dose of green veggies.
I followed the same basic recipe from budgetbytes.com, with a few adjustments.
- used 2 1/2 tsp granulated garlic instead of fresh garlic
- left out the carrots
- used 1/2 lb frozen broccoli and 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
- used 32 freshly milled soft white wheat flour instead of all purpose flour
- reduced noodles to 3/4 lb dried elbow pasta
- sprinkled 6 oz shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella
- used 9×12 baking dish
- once it was assembled, I covered it with plastic and refrigerated overnight (I was using the oven for homemade yogurt)
- the next morning, baked at 375° for about 55 min.
Baking the casserole after letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight worked out just fine. After it cooled, I divided it into smaller containers and popped in the freezer.
The texture is really good, although a tiny bit watery. The amount of creamy sauce is great, and I love having all of the vegetables. The flavor is on the bland side, and definitely needs some salt and pepper. I think it would be improved by using fresh garlic instead of the granulated. And I missed the carrots that were in the last batch.
It’s not an exciting dish, but it’s filling and comforting, and having frozen meals at the ready is always appreciated.
Lately I’ve become rather hooked on maximizing grocery store savings. It’s like a game, seeing how I can get the most for my money, and it helps that I focus on stocking my pantry with staples that help me cook from scratch. When the grocery store had 1-lb bags of pasta on sale for $.49 each, I stocked up on a variety of shapes and have been brainstorming all the fun ways I can use them.
BudgetBytes.com has loads of doable, healthy, and frugal recipes (my Mealtime board is now loaded with pins from this site). It was really hard to choose which to make first! I started with one that aligned best with my freezer and pantry items and adapted it with my ingredients.
Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake from BudgetBytes.com
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 oz frozen peas, cooked and drained
- 12 oz frozen broccoli, cooked and drained
- 6 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 c hard white wheat flour
- 4 c whole milk
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Pasta and topping:
- 1 lb shell pasta
- 3 oz shredded gouda
I don’t like adding frozen vegetables to a hot, oily pan because of the sizzle and splatter, so I opted to cook my veggies first in a small Micro-Cooker vegetable steamer that goes in the microwave. Except for the carrots, which I sauteed in the oil.
Oh, yum. This is a great balance of flavor and textures. Not too cheesy, not too saucy, plenty of vegetables. The gouda on top is really special. And after a few years of only eating homemade pasta at home, it’s a treat to have the convenience of dried pasta on hand.
I actually think I could skip adding the cheese to the sauce next time, and just go with the cheese on top. Increasing the spices and seasonings in the sauce would be good, perhaps adding dried minced onion and garlic (or fresh, if I have some).
I love the way this casserole turned out — and perhaps even more I love that there are seven more servings of it in the freezer, ready to be pulled out for an easy meal here and there.