My day has been a rollercoaster ride of craziness.
First off the good – I got my internship, yay!
The bad – I just got a haircut in preparation for my internship and I got butchered! I have to keep telling myself it’s just hair and will eventually grow back.
Another bad – my twitter account was suspended and I’m emailing back and forth with their customer service trying to figure out why. I’m definitely not a spammer, phisher, porn uploader, etc.
And one more bad – my freaking crockpot is broken? It won’t heat up and it’s only two months old. I have to contact them and see how my warranty works. This is my third time trying to make this meal and I made sure to check it after two hours and yeah, it’s just not heating up *frustrated*.
Which means I’m going to have to throw out this food again and we’ll probably have to get dinner out because of it *sigh*.
But wait…things are looking up – I just called and talked to Crockpot and they’re sending me out a replacement free of charge.
Woohoo! More good news – my twitter account was accidently suspended and has been restored.
Add all of these up and you can see why I’m talking about a rollercoaster ride. At least last night I managed to make dinner since I’ve been foiled again today. My goal when I was throwing together this meal was to use up my CSA vegetables in preparation for the new box.
Anyway, I was playing around with the idea of a casserole/pasta bake but I had literally just done an Italian pasta dish earlier in the week and was planning another Italian dish the next day (which has failed due to my crockpot not working). I wanted to do something at least a bit different (ah the perils of being a food blogger).
Instead I decided to give it more of a Mexican flavor, especially since I was going to be using the last on my corn in it – see how clever I am? At least it’s a bit unexpected.
This ended up being a good solid casserole, with a nice flavor from the salsa that had the added bonus of being easy to put together. I actually couldn’t believe I finished my whole portion, because it was a nice sized serving but it was unexpectedly good. Now mind you, it’s nothing earth shattering, but it’s definitely one of those comforting meals. You could probably even make it a day ahead, and I’m wondering if this could even be freezable as long as you waited to top it with the cheese until you decided to cook it.
- 5 ounces short pasta (think penne, ziti – I actually used whole wheat chiocciole that I had lurking in my pantry)
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil
- 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 bunch of swiss chard leaves, chopped (I didn’t use the stems because we don’t like them, if you do like them feel free to use them – you’ll just have to add the stems earlier to ensure they get tender)
- ½ lb chopped tomato
- 4 oz diced green chiles or jalapenos (if you didn’t want to do a separate tomato and chile step, I’d recommend a 10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles)
- ¾ cup salsa (use your favorite, you could also increase the salsa anywhere up to 1 ¼ cup depending on how “saucy” you want it)
- 1 tsp mexican oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (you could also use pepperjack or a Mexican melting cheese here)
- 2 Tbsp light or fat free ricotta
- 2 Tbsp light or fat free cottage cheese (or use ¼ cup of either ricotta or cottage cheese)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
- Cook pasta according to directions, pulling a minute before it hits al dente, drain.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat ¾ tsp of oil in skillet. Cook corn 5 minutes, until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Heat remaining ¾ tsp of oil. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add in garlic, sauté for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Add in zucchini and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Add in swiss chard leaves and toss until wilted. Add in corn, tomato and chiles, sauté for 2 – 3 more minutes. Pour in salsa and stir to combine. Taste and then season with oregano, cumin, chipotle chili powder, salt and pepper to taste (a lot of the seasoning will depend on what kind of salsa you use. Feel free to change the seasonings to your taste. I personally used our favorite habanero chipotle salsa which is delicious).
- Toss pasta in pan with vegetables and toss until the salsa and vegetables have mixed and coated the pasta. Combine ½ cup cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese and lightly beaten egg with vegetables in pan. Pour contents into a sprayed 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is browned and casserole is bubbly. Cut into 4 servings.
I kept is simple and served a small green side salad along with the casserole but I’m honestly not sure if we even needed it since the portion for the baked pasta was pretty generous.
The salsa acted as a thin coating for the entire dish and gave a nice “tastiness” factor to the entire thing. You could also easily switch the vegetables in and out to take advantage of whatever you like/have on hand.