Beef & Lamb

A Comforting Medley

Vegetable medley-The Duo Dishes

We are not the first ones to rediscover the comforting qualities of a good casserole.  Maybe you remember the one your grandmother or mom used to make when you were younger.  Perhaps it was the first dish you learned how to create yourself during the inception of your cooking trials.  It could be that you just love anything that calls for tossing a bunch of food in a dish and baking it.  Relatively utter simplicity.  No matter, the casserole seems to stand for all things warm, homey, reassuring and soothing.  It’s full of flavor, love and hopefully lots of cheese.  This casserole is all of those things, including the cheese.  It’s full of veggies, pasta and meat too.  Each bite harks back to a mouthful of contented solace.  Would you like a piece?

Note:  We should invest in a deep dish baking dish.  Something that’s at least 5 inches high perhaps.   That way, when we go at this again, we can really pile on a few more layers.  If we had had room, there  would’ve been slices of eggplant, asparagus and green peppers.  Unfortunately, they had to stay out of this round.  Next time, it will be an even bigger vegetable extravaganza!  Instead of tomatoes, we actually used a cup of leftover, defrosted marinara sauce, but you can choose whatever road you like.  As usual, we tossed lots of fresh parsley on top, which never fails to please.

Beef and Vegetable Pasta Bake--The Duo Dishes

Beef and Vegetable Penne Casserole – Serves 6 to 8

1/2 pound penne pasta
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
3 cups spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12-15 leaves basil plus extra for garnish
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Olive oil

1.  Cook pasta salted water for the minimum cooking time suggested, approximately 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2.  In a pan, swirl a bit of olive oil in a pan and add garlic and onions.  Cook down, stirring occasionally, until onions soften.

3.  Add beef to pan with salt, nutmeg and red pepper flakes.  Cook meat until almost completely browned, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Take off the heat.

4.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and press pasta down on bottom layer.  Top with cooked beef mixture then tomatoes.

5.  In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese with eggs and spread over the tomatoes.

6.  Layer the spinach leaves, followed by red peppers then mushrooms.  Alternate zucchini and squash in rows on the very top.  Tuck the basil leaves in between the zucchini and squash pieces.

7.  Sprinkle the cheddar and mozzarella on top and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  Raise oven heat to 450, remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes or until bubbly and cheese browns slightly.  Allow to rest at least 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven.  Sprinkle with extra basil.

Click HERE for the printable recipe.


47 thoughts on “A Comforting Medley

  1. casseroles brings back great memories for me and the best part is the options are endless.

    I have never found a dish deep enough to hold everything but maybe my dutch oven could work.

    Nicely done!

  2. Your veggies all look so fresh — delicious! I wish I had a big plate of those and I’d throw the whole thing on the grill!

  3. My casserole dishes are too big for two, and hubby dislikes too much left overs. I want to find some minis, since I will be making your lasagna dish with the class… this looks great, and reminds me of a vegetarian dish we would make at a restaurant I worked once…name escapes me!

  4. Oh man, this casserole looks so delicious and comforting! I love that it receives a great dose of veggies, too. How fabulous! Man, I think I may have to make this for dinner one night soon. Great job!

  5. Do you know that this complete meal with pasta, vegs and beef is THE dish for long distance runners after training?

    Excellent tasty job and heading to dinner with this in my mouth 🙂



  6. I never cook casseroles – for no good reason except I don’t think to. Well actually I think its because I’m so impatient when I’m cooking (NOT GOOD when your trying a new angel food cake recipe, like last weekend when I pulled it out of the oven, determined it was done, even though I knew it wasn’t. It collapsed into a mush). I like to stir and taste as its cooking. I love my veggies though and this looks worth waiting to be cooked for!

  7. Looks wonderful! I do love me some casseroles, too! It was that whole growing up in the rural south in the 50’s and 60’s thing that instilled that love in me, don’t you know?

  8. Great way to incorporate lots of good stuff – veggies, meat, pasta. Lots of flavors and textures here.

    Would you believe I hated casseroles as a kid? I didn’t like lots of food cooked together in one pan. I was a weird kid though. I also hated mac and cheese and pizza.

  9. MMMM….love it! Love it! love it! Love it! Love it!

    Great dinner , perfect for the summer, sitting outside & having an excellent white wine with that lovelyness!

  10. WOW, such a nice presentation…love all the ingredients that you have in it. A perfect one dish meal…great pictures…by the way, thank you so much for visiting my wite.

  11. The fresh sliced veggies look almost as good as the finished casserole. Almost – the pasta and cheese puts the latter on top! I would be most comfortable having a big plate of this. 8-D

  12. I used to love it when my mom made this horrible chicken casserole with cream of chicken soup and other horrible things. I don’t know that I’d care for it much now, but at the time, it was the epitome of comfort food!

  13. Love the before and after shoots – this dish looks incredible, tasty and just plain good.

  14. Nice casserole! Nice photos too, it’s hard to get these baked pasta dishes looking appetizing in a photo, but you did an awesome job! I love this recipe: simple, flavourful, comforting and nutritious! Thanks!

  15. Sounds fantastic! My local farmers market is opening (has opened?) soon, I’m totally keeping this in mind when I go.

  16. You’re right, I do love tossing a bunch of stuff together in a dish and baking it. And I love the left-overs too. I’m a casserole girl for sure and this one looks really inviting. Yes, I’d like a piece, please!

  17. This sounds-and looks- like a most delicious casserole. And the use of cottage cheese mustadd a special flavor. Love all the veggies in here!

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