This for me is the epitome of Italian food. Pasta, mushrooms, spinach, cheese… It is almost like vegi pizza but in a pasta form. It is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies and a good choice for vegetarians. It is a little bit spicy so if your kiddos do not like any heat make sure to eliminate the cayenne pepper from the recipe. You can make this a day before and reheat it and the flavors improves the longer it waits.
You will need: 1lb elbow macaroni pasta (or other small tubes pasta such as penne), 2 tbs olive oil, 1/2 lb mushrooms (for this one I used button, cremini and portabella), 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 (14.5 oz) can of dice tomatoes, 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach (thawed with water squeezed out), 1 roasted red pepper, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesian/Romano cheese, 2tbs butter, 1lb of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
Boil the pasta per instructions on the box. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Peel the garlic by first giving it a good wack with a side of a knife. This makes the peeling a lot easier.
Chop it up
Chop up a roasted red pepper, you can also use a 4 oz can of diced pimientos (drained).
Here are my assorted mushrooms. I think I used some of them from my mushroom prints.
Quarter the mushrooms.
Heat the oil over medium heat. When warm
throw in the mushrooms
While the mushroom mixture is cooking, take out that wonderful mozzarella cheese. Try not to eat it all before cooking.
cut it up into even cubes… eat a couple though… don’t be a scrooge… offer some to the kiddos too.
Mix one cup of Parmesian/Romano cheese with
one cup of regular bread crumbs.
This will make the bottom crust and the top crust of the casserole.
Butter a 9x13x2 inch glass baking dish with softened butter.
sprinkle half the breadcrumb/cheese mixture on the dish.
move it around the pan to make sure that is it covered evenly.
Now back to the mushrooms… I am sure that your house is now beginning to fill with wonderful Italian aromas… are you hungry yet? When the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden stir in the can of tomatoes.
spinach and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and nutmeg.
Mix in the roasted red peppers.
Now let’s take an inventory. You should have: cooked vegie mixture, pasta, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumb/cheese mixture and an empty bowl.
First mix the pasta and vegies together just to make sure they are well distributed.
add in the cheese.
add half of the bread crumb mixture and mix well
put in the baking dish, cover with the remaining bread crumbs mixture.
bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Now dig in… it surely smells good
tastes pretty good too.