Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Asparagus, Spinach, Zucchini, and Peas

August 3, 2010 § Leave a comment


  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Rotelle whole wheat pasta
  • 1 container Trader Joe’s low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 medium zucchini (sliced into 1 inch thick strips)
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bag of frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung out)
  • 1 cup of fresh peas or frozen peas defrosted
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 pieces of Trader Joe’s cracked wheat sourdough bread
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Zest of lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Homemade or home style ranch dressing (for serving)


1.  Preheat your oven to 425º.  Cut the head of cauliflower into 1 inch florets.  Toss the florets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the florets out, in a single layer, on a rimmed baking pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until florets are tender and have browned in spots.

2.  While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a grill pan and grill up the bunch of asparagus and zucchini.  When the asparagus and zucchini is cooked, be careful you still want them to be crisp, set them on a plate to cool.

3.  Cook the pasta according to the packages directions.   Make sure you generously salt the pasta water to add flavor to the pasta.

4.  While the pasta is cooking and the veggies are cooling off, make the crouton crust for the top of the pasta.  In a food processor, combine the bread (tear them into large pieces), chopped parsley, and lemon zest.  Pulse until you have medium sized crumbs.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and pulse 2-3 times to just incorporate the oil.

5.  When the pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water for use later in this recipe.  Put the drained pasta back into the same pot you cooked the pasta in.

6.  To the cooked pasta, add the roasted cauliflower, grilled asparagus and zucchini (cut it into bite sized pieces before adding it into the pot), spinach, peas, red pepper flakes, the reserved pasta water, and the container of low-fat ricotta cheese. Mix until combined.

7.  Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

8.  Put the pasta in a large baking dish.  Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in a 350° oven until the pasta is heated all the way through and the crumb topping has browned (about 30-40 minutes).

I serve ranch dressing on the side for this pasta dish.  If you aren’t obsessive about counting calories, a drizzle of cold ranch dressing on top of this warm summer pasta is heavenly.


Russian Roots Friday

February 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

This salad is very popular in Russian households, especially in the wintertime when roots (carrots, potatoes, beets, etc) are readily available.  Although this is a salad, it is definitely hearty enough to be served as a light dinner main course.  It is best served at room temperature or cold.

This recipe is quite simple and it is perfect for the end of the week because the roots you get at the farmers market will still be nice and fresh.


  • 1 lb boiled potatoes (I used mini potatoes — you could use any size, just make sure they are young potatoes)
  • 4 boiled fist-sized beets
  • 1/2 lb boiled carrots (I used red carrots, but regular orange ones are fine too)
  • 1 cup peas (I used Trader Joe’s organic frozen peas)
  • 4 dill pickles or 1 large dill pickle
  • 2 small yellow onions OR 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large APPLE (add it if you have it, it will change your life)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note on boiled vegetables: In order to prepare the boiled vegetables, simply wash them and boil them in a large pot so that the water is always covering them.  Boil on medium for about 30-45 minutes.  Test with a fork to make sure they are cooked: stick a fork into the largest vegetable and if the fork slides in and out smoothly, they are done.

Do not worry about peeling anything before boiling.  It is much easier to peel them once they are cooked.  Once the vegetables are cooked, peel the beets and the carrots by simply scraping your knife over the skins until they come off.  See picture below.

Next, cut the vegetables, apple and pickles into 1/4″ pieces and combine in a bowl with peas, olive oil, salt and pepper:

Mix and serve.  (I can’t get over the beautiful color of the beets!)

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