In my quest for vegetarian options to offer family and friends, I threw caution to the wind and glommed together this recipe for a primavera in the form of a casserole/lasagna want-to-be. (Too lazy to use lasagna noodles, so used fusilli instead.) (Coincidentally, using fusilli pasta is easy to serve. That always works for me!)
Now, at first glance you might think this recipe very time consuming to fix. But if you study the preparation instructions you will find that actually this dish comes together relatively quickly. Nothing fancy happening in any of the steps. And oh the results. If you are a veggie and cheese lover like I am, this is a dish you will love from first bite.
Now I’m not going to tell you that just because veggies are the star of this show, that this is a nutritionally perfect pasta dish. Yes the veggies are marvels of nature, but the butter, whipping cream, and various cheeses offset some of the benefits gained by “eating your veggies”. But once in a while, every mouth deserves a break from the mundane. And if you are going to indulge every so often, at least you can eat something with some nutritionally redeemable qualities at the same time. (That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!)
So chop us some of your favorite veggies. (Be inventive and use the veggies you like best.) Grate some cheese, and al dente you up some pasta. (Use your favorite pasta. Doesn’t have to be fusilli.) Stir them all together, throw the whole mess in the oven, and serve yourself up a treat.
Perfect served with a nice crisp green salad and some chewy Italian bread.
- 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 sm. carrot, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced into half rounds
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ red onion, chopped
- ½ bunch asparagus, sliced into diagonal ¾-inch pieces
- 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
- 14-16 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 sm. yellow summer squash, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 1 med. zucchini, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 c. halved small cherry or grape tomatoes
- ½ c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 c. heavy whipping cream
- 1 c. whole milk
- 4 oz. (½ lg. pkg.) cream cheese
- 1½ tsp. Italian seasoning
- 2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 c. frozen petite peas
- ¾ lb. fusilli pasta, cooked al dente
- vegetable broth or pasta water, as needed
- 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the yellow onion, red onion, asparagus, red pepper, and mushroom slices. Sauté until all the veggies are crisp tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the squash and zucchini and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; set aside.
In a saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the butter, heavy whipping cream, milk, and cream cheese until the butter melts and the sauce is smooth and starting to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning.
In a large bowl, combine the peas, cooked veggies, sauce, and al dente pasta. If the sauce needs a little more liquid, stir in a small amount of vegetable broth or pasta water.
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and scoop in the pasta mixture. Pat down a bit and sprinkle with the grated mozzarella.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the entire dish is heated through and the mozzarella is melted and turning a light golden brown.
Please Note: If you are making this dish ahead of time, let each part of the recipe come to room temperature before mixing together. Cover and refrigerate until about an hour before you place in pre-heated oven.