Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yummy Pasta Bake

This is one tasty and crazy easy dinner to make!  Nothing makes you feel cozier on a rainy spring evening than curling up with some yummy Italian food.  I always make this meal using some of my leftover spaghetti sauce that I have stashed away in the freezer...which makes it an extremely cheap dish to make too! :) Even with the sinful goodness of this dish it is a relatively clean meal especially if you keep your portion small and pair it with a garden salad.  Tim isn't always on board with my healthy meals so this is one that I can make for him and then he has leftovers to work on throughout the week.  Also the bechamel sauce adds the perfect amount of creamy goodness to the dish without the need for extra cheese or heavy cream.  And by using whole grain pasta it fills you up and keeps you full longer!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

2 1/2 Cups Spaghetti Sauce (check out my recipe here)
7oz Dried Whole Grain Pasta (I like to use Penne)
6oz Shredded Italian Cheese
Ingredients for Bechamel Sauce
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Cup Milk (I use 1%)
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, and Cayenne

Preheat oven to 350.  I use an 8x8x2 glass dish for baking but whatever you have handy should work.  In a large pot start boiling water for your pasta, once the water is boiling add pasta and boil for 10 minutes or until it is barely Al Dente (DO NOT overcook because the pasta will continue to cook once it's in the oven).  Once your pasta is done drain the water, rinse with cold water, and set aside.  While you're preparing the pasta place a small sauce pan over medium heat and melt your butter.  Once the butter is melted wisk in your flour until it becomes paste like (roux).  Slowly add your milk to the flour/butter mixture stirring constantly.  Add some salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg and cayenne, allow mixture to come to a boil (turn up the heat if necessary) and continue stirring, once it starts boiling it will start to thicken quickly.  Once your sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon remove from the heat and set aside.  Now let mix it all TOGETHER!! In bowl combine your cooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, and bechamel sauce. Pour half of your mixture in into your baking dish and sprinkle half of your cheese over it, pour in the rest of your mixture and top with the remaining cheese.  Slide your dish into the oven for 40-45 minutes.  Remove when the top is nice and bubbly and  starting to slightly brown on top.  Enjoy!!

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