For our second Express Lane meals recipe I tried Rachel Ray’s “Vegetable Not-sagna Pasta Toss.” I’d only give it 3 out of 5 stars. It has potential, but I found it lacking a little flavor. Perhaps the addition of sundried tomatoes, capers or even (gasp) bacon would help.
Please excuse the bad photo. I was tired after this one!
So for the pasta you’ll need:
1 pound curly short-cut pasta (this could be my first mistake…I used mostacoli which is not curly and is a little longer than she meant I think) such as campanelle or cavatappi.
1 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini (we like yellow squash better so I used that)
12 cremini or baby portobellow mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jarred roasted red pepper, drained, patted dry, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter (unsalted)
2 rounded tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg (eyeball it)
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 cup fresh basil
So cook the pasta and make sure to reserve 1 ladle full of pasta water.
Defrost the spinach on a plate in the microwave. Between 5 and 6 minutes will do it. Let it cool slightly then place it in a dish towel (take it out of the box..haha) and wring it to get all the water out.
Thinly slice your mushrooms and zucchini. Add 2 tbsp to a pan and heat over medium high. When the pan is hot, toss in the mushrooms and zucchini slices. While that cooks, slice your onion and chop the garlic and add those to the pan as well. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until the onions are tender. Then add the spinach (separate into small bits) and the red peppers. Toss to heat through then transfer this mixture to a bowl or plate.
Add the remaining tbsp of olive oil and the butter to the pan and let the butter melt. Then add the flour and cook for a minute or so, then whisk in the broth and milk. Let it bubble and cook (stirring once in a while) for 2 to 3 minutes until it reduces and thickens slightly. Season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg and taste taste taste! (I fell down on the job here).
In the mean time, mix the ricotta and water in a bowl and add in the grated parm. The water should be hot when you add it, so if you need to reheat it, do so. Drain the pasta, toss with the cheeses and then add half the vegetables to the sauce (I just added in everything). Tear or shred the basil and toss into the pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings. Then top bowlfuls of the pasta with the remaining veggies and extra cheese.
I know it sounds crazy to think that didn’t have a ton of flavor…maybe a little cream cheese with the ricotta? It just needed a little kick. Even toasted breadcrumbs would give it a little something special.