Meatless Recipe #4 – California Veggie Penne

unnamedThis is another recipe I found my searching the web and Pinterest. I found a recipe or two that I liked for penne rigate and then I put my own twist on it. Macaroni, Spaghetti, and Lasagna noodles have always been a staple in our house but I wanted to switch it up and try something new.  So I chose the penne rigate noodle because they are a little bigger and I thought they’d add more substance to a smaller portion.

I call this one “California Veggie” because that’s the name of the bag of frozen vegetables that I used in it. This is a cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot mixture but you could use whatever you want.  Or you could use fresh veggies too.

The best thing about this recipe besides taste is that I can make it in under thirty minutes and it only has four main ingredients: noodles, a bag of frozen vegetables, one can of tomatoes, and chickenless chicken strips. Yep, you read that correctly!  It’s another bean based protein food that I love.  I saw it at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and picked it up and it does taste just like chicken!  I’ve only tried the Southwestern flavor so far, but I’m sure the other flavors are just as good too.unnamed (1)

Instead of canned tomatoes, you could certainly use a pasta sauce. The first time I made this dish I used a can of thick diced tomatoes that did not have a lot of sauce in them. The second time I made it (pictured above) I used a can of crushed tomatoes that had more red sauce.  I actually prefer the lesser sauce version over more sauce but both were yummy.

Start by bringing the noodles to a boil in salt water. I use only about two cups of noodles. Once they are tender, drain the noodles but keep about half a cup of the hot starchy water. Once the noodles are drained, put them back in the pot. Add a pat of real butter to them along with the pasta water you saved. You know how once you drain your noodles, if you leave them sitting there too long they tend to dry out.  Well, adding just a bit of that starchy water and the butter to them makes the noodles shiny and keeps them from drying out.  Turn your stove to medium heat because you don’t want the noodles to start boiling again. They will soak up the water as you add the rest of the ingredients.

Then add your bag of frozen veggies. At this point, I season with salt and pepper.  I also add a bit of Italian seasoning.  The first time I made this I used spicey oregano from our herb garden. The second time I made this I used basil from the garden. Whatever spices you like in your Italian dishes will be just fine. Onion is another staple in Italian dishes for me so I chopped up about 1/4 cup of fresh yellow onion and added it to the mixture.  Next add your can of tomatoes. Stir the mixture so that the veggies unthaw and the mixture gets heated throughout.

Then I add about one dozen chickenless strips and continue to mix and toss. Once everything is heated well, you are ready to serve! This recipe makes about four decent sized portions that are only about 195 calories each. It has about 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar (mostly from the canned tomatoes), and 12 grams of protein per serving.

Here’s your grocery list:

1 Box of Penne Rigate Noodles (you’ll only use 2 cups in the recipe)
1 Can of Diced or Crushed Tomatoes (do not drain)
1 Bag of California Style Frozen Veggies (or veggie mix of your choice)
1 Pack of Chickenless Chicken Strips (use about 12 strips in the recipe)
1/4 of chopped yellow onion
Salt, Pepper, and Italian Seasonings (Oregano or Basil), and 1 pat of butter

  1. Boil the pasta in a pot and drain when tender. Keep about 1/2 cup of the hot water.
  2. Put the pasta back in the pot on low heat. Add the butter and the 1/2 cup of water to the pasta.
  3. Add the frozen veggies and can of tomato sauce to the pasta and mix.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian Seasonings.
  5. Add the chickenless strips and continue to stir and mix until heated throughout.
  6. Serve with dinner rolls and Parmesan cheese.

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