More than ever this year I am counting my pennies (in both currencies!) as now we are running two homes in two countries. I’m challenging myself to shop less and cook more from things I already have on hand as well as to work even harder to avoid waste of any kind. This quick and easy dinner requires ingredients that you probably already have on hand and is a perfect frugal choice.
I buy pesto in bulk at Costco or when it is on special, or of course you can use homemade. You can use any flavour pesto in this recipe, although I mostly use the red pepper or basil varieties. Ditto the cheese – I use mozzarella when I have it on hand, but cheddar, Monterey Jack or any meltable cheese will do. If you have ends of several different compatible cheeses on hand, you can mix cheeses too.
Good frozen vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked and are just as good for you as fresh veggies. I like to use the mixed vegetables with smaller pieces – typically containing peas, corn, cut up green beans etc – as larger vegetables don’t work as well in this recipe.
The first time I made this I really hesitated, thinking my meat-loving husband and son would be disappointed. On the contrary, both of them raved about this dish, and have asked me to make it several times since.
Fabulously Frugal Vegetarian Pasta Bake
Serves 3 to 4 (easily doubled)
300 grams (10 to 11 ounces) pasta shapes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use mild olive oil)
1 large onion, cut in half and finely sliced
2 generous cups frozen mixed vegetables
½ cup pesto
1½ cups grated cheese
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC or 180ºC for a fan oven).
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.
Meanwhile, steam the frozen vegetables or cook them in the microwave.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for about five minutes, until it begins to soften. If you sprinkle a bit of salt over the onions it will help them to soften up faster.
Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pan. Add the onions and steamed vegetables, along with the pesto. Stir through, adding a bit of pasta water at a time until you get a nice consistency.
Pour the pasta and vegetables into a large casserole dish and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Serve with garlic bread and/or salad.
Shared with Hearth and Soul, Recipe Box, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday,
My Meatless Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday