While National Nutrition Month is not officially until March, I have already been receiving several e-mails from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics about this year’s theme, “Go Further with Food”. This year National Nutrition Month will be all about doing your part to plan your meals and snacks ahead of time using what you have on hand in your pantry to reduce food loss, and food waste.
For this week’s recipe, I decided to take the challenge of creating a dish from scratch, using only what I have on hand in my kitchen. This cheesy broccoli casserole is the perfect easy dish to prepare on a cold winter day after you get home from work and don’t have a lot of time. Other than having to chop some veggies, there is not much work involved in putting this recipe together. Plus, I was able to use up a lot of the fresh veggies that I had on hand before they could go bad. If you don’t have the same veggies on hand in your kitchen, no problem! Chances are, your creation will probably still be delicious if you substitute.
Here’s a challenge for you: for one week make note of any food item that you’ve had to throw away because it’s passed its expiration date, gone stale, etc. Use this information of what you have been throwing away to be a smarter shopper by reducing how much you purchase, and to save yourself some money! Before your food goes bad, let your creativity take over and try to create a delicious meal with what you have available. What’s better than saving a little money and eating a home cooked meal?
- 4 cups of whole wheat bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup milk (soy milk works fine too)
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, plain
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. iodized salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure that you have a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish on hand, or something similar. Set it aside for now.
- Fill a medium sized sauce pan with 2-3 inches of water on a medium high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the broccoli and cover. Cook the broccoli for about 10 minutes, or until you are able to easily pierce through the stalks with a fork.
- Once the broccoli is finished cooking, drain the water. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, chopped peppers, onion, minced garlic, and the cooked pasta. Stir in the softened cream cheese, making sure to coat everything evenly. Add milk to the mixture for a little extra moisture.
- Next, stir in the shredded cheddar cheese, the Italian seasoning, and the salt. Once you have a nice evenly coated mixture, transfer everything from the bowl into the casserole dish.
- Combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Sprinkle this over the top of the cheesy broccoli mixture. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Then, turn your oven onto a broiler setting and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until you achieve a nice golden color over the top of your casserole. (Be sure to keep a close eye on the casserole while you are on the broiler setting; it will brown VERY fast!)
- Let your dish cool for about 5 minutes, then serve and ENJOY!!!