May 5, 2009

Portobello Penne Pasta Casserole

We are having a decidedly non-Cinco de Mayo dinner this evening. Cinco de Mayo is a huge deal here in Phoenix, so it seems a little strange to skip it this year. We typically celebrate it with a Mexican-inspired dinner, at the very least. Oh well, I have a good reason to bypass the normal Cinco de Mayo feast.

(Okay, okay, I confess...Cinco de Mayo is usually just an excuse for us gringos to gorge on Mexican food and drink too many margaritas!)

My friend JoEllen just had a baby, and I am in charge of bringing her family dinner tonight through my MOMS Club meal support program. JoEllen is a vegetarian, so I went back through my blog to look for a hearty, all-in-one vegetarian dish. Since her family has all just gotten over the flu, and JoEllen is nursing, a spicy Mexican meal is probably not a great idea. I think this dish will be a much better choice. I remembered that this pasta casserole was really yummy and completely satisfying. I know JoEllen loves portobello mushrooms, so I am hoping that she and her family will enjoy this dish.
I think I will also bring her a tub of salad for a side is always nice to have something 'green' to go with a pasta dish. I bought extra mushrooms to double this recipe and make a serving of this dish for our dinner, too. I am really excited to have this meal again, since it was so good the first time.

Here is the original recipe link:

Portobellow Penne Pasta Casserole

I changed some things, so I thought I would amend the recipe (see below):

Portobello Penne Pasta Casserole

1 box of whole wheat uncooked penne pasta
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 red onion, diced finely
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups skim milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino Romano, grated for topping
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated for topping
Additional vegetable or chicken stock to thin sauce, if needed (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, cook 1 minute, and set aside. Melt butter in the saucepan. Mix in onions and cook until soft and turning translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add flour and basil. Gradually mix in milk until thickened. Stir in 1 cup cheese until melted. Remove saucepan from heat, and mix in cooked pasta, mushrooms, spinach, red wine vinegar, and soy sauce. If sauce is too thick, add stock in small increments until desired consistency is achieved. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, and top with remaining mozzarella, Parm, and Pecorino Romano.
4. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly brown.

Cinco de Mayo, Schminco de Mayo...I think I would rather have this dinner anyway!

The Result:
I didn't take a new photo, since the dish looked exactly the same as it did in my previous post. I really liked my changes, and I think I will keep the amended recipe as the one that I will continue to make. I may tweak it further in the future, but for now, this version was the best so far.

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