Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

I discovered this recipe during my quest to find a baked pasta dish that wasn’t lasagna or baked ziti. No offense to either of those dishes (I love them both), but I wanted to make a pasta dish that didn’t include any meat or tons of ricotta cheese. I was watching the Food Network Channel one day and saw an episode of Everyday Italian with Giada. She made it look super easy to prepare and so yummy! So I decided to give it a try.

Michael was a little skeptical the first time I made this dish because there wasn’t any meat in it; however, he was pleasantly surprised after taking a few bites. There are just so many different flavors in the dish, ranging from the herbs de Provence in the roasted vegetables to the melted smoked mozzarella, that your taste buds are surprisingly satisfied. After playing around with the recipe a few times, I made a few tweaks to make it even more perfect for my own taste buds :). I portioned the recipe to make about four “normal” servings; however, Michael and I nearly finished the dish after one sitting ;). The leftovers taste even better the next day, but you can definitely separate the pasta into two portions before baking. Simply put one portion in a baking dish for today and freeze the other portion in an airtight container to bake another day. Continue reading

Quick and Easy Chicken Ratatouille

My friend, Peggy, is part of a CSA (community-shared-agriculture) at her workplace. Since she went on vacation this week, she arranged for me to pick up her share of vegetables and fruit. I’ve never gotten so many different types of vegetables at once before! There must’ve been at least four pounds each of squash, eggplant, and tomatoes. As I was thinking of what to make that would require using most of the vegetables, one dish came to mind – ratatouille! (You know you want to say it in a French accent. Go ahead, no one’s listening. ;))

There are many debates over the proper way to make a traditional ratatouille, ranging from layering and baking the vegetables in a casserole dish to simply sauteing the vegetables. My version is definitely not a “traditional” ratatouille, but rather a quick and easy way to achieve most of the flavors in a traditional ratatouille. It’s also a great way to use up the vegetables in your refrigerator, such as squash, eggplant, zucchini, onions, carrots, peppers, etc. Obviously, traditional ratatouille doesn’t include meat, but I added chicken for the extra protein to keep me full longer. I chose to use chicken thighs because I like the taste better and it’s extremely inexpensive; however, you could also use chicken breasts instead.

You could serve this dish by itself (which I do on my low-carb nights), or with rice, quinoa, couscous or slices of fresh baguette to soak up all the nice juices! I hope you give my chicken ratatouille a try sometime. It’s such a nice homey meal to make for yourself and those you love most :). Continue reading

Grilled Summer Vegetables

One of my favorite side dishes to serve in the summer is grilled peppers and zucchini. They are so fresh and sweet during the summer months, and I love how they get that nice smoky charred taste from the grill. I make these veggies almost every week in the summer and we can’t seem to get enough of them! The best part about this dish is that it’s SO easy to make. You could use any type of summer squash you like – zucchini, yellow straightneck squash, or yellow crookneck squash. And the different kinds of peppers available in the summer are endless! I prefer to use red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, and poblano peppers. Poblano peppers have a deep, yet still mild, flavor and are best in the summer.

So make sure to add these grilled vegetables to your next summer barbecue! No outdoor space or grill? No worries! You could also cook them over a stove top grill pan 😉 Continue reading