** This post is sponsored by Barilla and Galbani. All opinions are, as always, my own**
‘Tis the season for comfort food! Whether you’re looking for a holiday side or just a delicious dish to keep you and your family warm and satisfied this season, my Veggie Ninja Cheesy Pasta Bake is the perfect solution!
The Main Ingredients
Let’s be real, what’s better this time of year (or any time of year) than perfect pasta and quality cheese? If I was left on an island with only two foods to live with, it would be a close call between wine and (wine) and pasta and cheese. ha! So the base of this Veggie Ninja Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe is Barilla Penne Pasta, Sauce and Galbani Mozzarella Cheese.
I’ve used Barilla pastas of years because I love the wide variety of what they offer. In addition to nearly every type of noodle, they also have gluten free, whole grain and protein plus. Plus, Barilla stands for the joy of healthy and pleasurable eating and that Italian pasta provides the perfect canvas for a nutritious meal.
I’m working with Galbani Chunk Mozzarella because it’s the #1 brand in Italy and the US! As a company, it has over 130 Years of Italian Craftsmanship. I mean, if you’re going to eat cheese, it may as well be #1, right?
Veggie Ninja Side Kicks
Now the trouble with pasta and cheese only comes into play if the recipe is not put together in the right way. As solo ingredients, they may be delicious, but they may not create the most nutritionally dense meal. That’s where I come in! I’ve been calling myself (and my entire team at the Clean & Colorful Kitchen) Veggie Ninja’s all year long because, in reality, we are! We stuff nearly a pound of veggies into every meal and most of the time, you don’t even know there are there.
I’ve never been a fan of telling you what NOT to do or what you need to eliminate from your diet. I’ve always been a fan of showing you how to enjoy your traditional favorite ingredients, only kicked up a few notches on the nutrition scale. And this Veggie Ninja Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe is no exception! In addition to our high-quality base ingredients, we’re working with:
- Tomatoes: A good source vitamins A, C and K, minerals potassium, molybdenum and manganese. Tomatoes are a potent source of flavones, flavonols and carotenoids including lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene packing a mighty cancer fighting punch.
- Carrots: A good source of vitamin A, C, K, potassium, and fiber. They are loaded with the carotenoids beta and alpha carotene as well as lutein. Organic carrots are alkaline forming in the body, helping to regulate the body’s PH.
- Cauliflower: A cruciferous vegetable that is a good source of vitamins B (particularly B6), C, K, folate, potassium and manganese. It’s high in beta-carotene, giving it strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and is known to help detoxify the liver.
- Spinach: A good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K as well as minerals manganese, zinc, and selenium. It has strong anti-inflammatory benefits and a good source of flavonoids and the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zaexanthin.
- Red Onion: Are a good source of vitamin B and C, potassium, sulfur and chromium. Red onions in general pack more phytochemical power than white and contain polyphenols, specifically the flavonoid quercetin. Onions also have antibacterial and anti-cancer properties from organosulfur compounds.
Most of these veggie ninja side kicks are also low on the glycemic index and alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar. Did you notice how I stuffed all 5 colors in there as well? This is not just a Cheesy Pasta Bake, it’s also a Rainbow Pasta Bake! But shhhhh…you don’t need to tell anybody that!
Veggie Ninja Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe
- 16 oz Barilla Elbow Pasta
- 2 lb Cauliflower
- 8 oz Carrots
- 10 oz Red Onions
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 oz fresh Spinach
- 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 cup Galbani Chunk Mozzarella, shredded
- 2 cups Barilla Pasta Sauce
- 1 tsp Salt (to taste)
- .5 tsp Pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Fill another large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Wash and chop cauliflower and carrots into large pieces. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Cover a baking sheet with foil. Chop onions into ½ pieces and add the garlic. Roast at 375 for 20 minutes.
- Strain boiled cauliflower and carrots, add to blender with almond milk, pasta sauce, ½ the cheese, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.
- Add cooked pasta to a large bowl, add spinach, cover with red cheese sauce.
- Top with remaining cheese and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted, browned and bubbly.
- Serves 8 as a main with about 400 calories, 18g protein, 11g fat, 7g fiber, 10g sugar.
- Serves 16 as a side with about 200 calories, 9g protein, 5g fat, 4g fiber, 5g sugar.
Note: Traditional Cheesey Pasta Bakes can easily have upwards of 2x the fat and calories! And let’s not forget about the five veggies, we were able to sneak in there! Veggie Ninja Cheesey Pasta Bake is definitely the way to go this holiday season!
Where to stock up on all these ingredients
Another thing that is great about Barilla and Galbani is that you can easily find them at Walmart, along with the veggie ninja side kicks. I also got to stock up on toothpaste, shampoo and other necessities while I was shopping. Win-win!
Do you know what’s extra awesome about this recipe?? When you purchase Barilla Pasta/Sauce and Galbani Cheese, you earn $2! That makes this recipe super tasty, nutritious and affordable! Get the details here!
What is your favorite veggie ninja trick?
Subscribe to Blog via Email