Since my brothers moved into the city TOGETHER this past January, the 3 of us decided to make a plan to get together every so often for a Sibling Homemade Dinner (I know – cute right?). It’s been fun having my brothers nearby, especially my older brother with whom I enjoy taking on the NYC food scene and swapping healthy recipes.
A few Sunday nights ago, it was my turn to cook. Despite the recently warm weather in New York, it was a rather cold and rainy Sunday. I was in the mood to make something that would warm me up, provide me with a cheesy goodness ,which I was craving, and contain some veggies. My younger brother’s requests: it must be “hearty” and “keep well for leftovers.” He was looking to score at least 2 dinner meals out of this night.
I looked through The SkinnyTaste cookbook by Registered Dietitian, Gina Homolka for inspiration. I got the cookbook this past December as part of a holiday gift exchange for work. My co-workers know me well! I decided on the Cheesy Baked Penne with Eggplant, as it seemed easy enough, could be prepared in under an hour and utilized simple ingredients, including veggies. I made a few adaptations, some intentional and some NOT so intentional, described below.
- I used canned, diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano instead of canned, crushed tomatoes.
- I added baby spinach leaves.
- I used part-skim instead of fat-free ricotta cheese.
- I added red pepper flakes to kick the spice up a notch.
- For added crispness, I broiled the bake at the end for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- I “accidentally” added all the Romano at the end, right before cooking instead of combining some of it earlier with the ricotta mixture.
How did it turn out?
Overall, a satisfying, vegetarian dish that provides a healthy dose of low fat dairy, whole grains and veggies. BROTHERS APPROVED. My brothers ended up eating the leftovers for dinner the next night but this dish can be easily frozen. Just wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and place in a large freezer bag. When ready to eat, take the portion out the day before and transfer to the fridge to thaw overnight.
Other vegetables I would try with this dish because I always like to switch things up would be sliced zucchini, yellow squash or mushrooms, other leafy greens such as kale and onions. What vegetables do you think would work well in this recipe?