Cheesy Veggie Pasta

This pasta is creamy and cheesy, and full of lots of summer veggies. What’s not to love?!?

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

Ahhh, pasta. If you’re like me, you probably have it at least once a week in some form or another. No matter how you fix it, pasta is always a vehicle for something delicious. Though baked pastas are my FAVE, in the summer, sometimes that’s too much. So this time, I threw in everything from my local farmer’s market and called it a day. I think the combo of mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and corn was perfect. I thought about just tossing the veggies with an olive oil or butter-based sauce, but instead decided to try for a lighter creamy sauce. After cooking the veggies, I tossed in some flour and added some milk. After letting it cook down, I added cheese and herbs. I truly wasn’t sure how it would go, and was so happy with the results! In a word, or three… Flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying. Mmm!

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

I absolutely inhaled this colorful and light pasta! It’s cheesy and creamy and super wonderful. Unlike some saucy pasta dishes, this one reheated well which was a pleasant surprise. You better believe I hoarded the leftovers and will be making this again soon. :) Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
two years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
four years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs – I used dill, basil, lemon thyme, and a tiny bit of mint
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Season with pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir to coat. Pour in milk and stir. Constantly stir, cooking until thick–about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, fold pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with herbs and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts, then season with pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or toss in an oven safe baking dish and cook until cheese on top crisps up. I think some bread crumbs mixed with butter and lemon zest on top could be magnificent too!

SRC: Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

This orzo pasta salad is filled with all of my favorite flavors… dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Simple and sophisticated, this dish can fill all your summer party needs!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

Ben and I moved to a new house this spring. Though we’re still in Nashville, we are on the other side of town, and as such, have had to get used to new everything. New grocery stores, new commutes, new running paths(!!!), new neighbors… and a new farmer’s market. Our local market is only a couple years old, and as such, is still pretty small. BUT size does not equal quality. Quality > quantity, ya know? Last weekend at the market, I couldn’t resist ALL the lovely tomatoes that have started to pop up. They’re juicy and sweet and oh-s0-pretty. And what better dish to celebrate summer tomatoes than a pasta salad?

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

This orzo and tomato pasta salad comes together, as its name implies, with a fantastic dijon-balsamic dressing. It’s funny, I found this recipe on Heather’s blog, Join Us, Pull Up a Chair. She’s my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of July… and her family didn’t care for the salad very much due to the tanginess of the dressing. But I made it anyway. HA! I read the recipe before the blog post so that explains it. And the dressing was tangy, for sure. I adjusted the proportions a little but the balsamic and dijon flavors are pretty prominent and strong. If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey. Ben and I thought it was perfect, a great pairing with the sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. MMM!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

One of the reasons I love participating in the SRC is getting to check out the blogs of other foodies. There’s always SO many good recipes to choose from. Heather started her blog several years ago as way to organize all her recipes because they were taking over her office. I can relate to that! Some of the other recipes I found on her blog that I can’t wait to try include snickerdoodle biscotti, Kung Pao chickpeas, cranberry hootiecreeks [what an awesome name for a cookie!], and cranberry vanilla shortbread cookies. If any of those recipes sound up your alley, be sure to check out Heather’s blog! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. And don’t forget to make this dijon balsamic orzo salad, stat! Enjoy!

one year ago: Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame
two years ago: Ginger Banana Waffles
three years ago: Minty Asian Slaw
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 minutes
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slightly adapted from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces orzo pasta [another small shape would work too]
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced [if you really like garlic… if not, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions. While orzo is cooking, toss tomatoes and chickpeas together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, and garlic. When pasta is cooked, drain and then place in bowl with the tomatoes. Stir together, then pour dressing and toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste, then stir in basil or use as a garnish.

If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey.

Salad tastes great warm, at room temperature, or cold. Also, it doubles easily! Add other veggies or some cheese if desired.

Click below for more recipes from this month’s edition of the Secret Recipe Club!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!

#HotSummerEats: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

An easy, creamy baked macaroni and cheese with corn and tomatoes… and a kick of Southwestern flair!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

Welcome to day 1 of #HotSummerEats! Don’t forget to read all about the event and check out the giveaway here. There are lots of great items up for grabs and I’d love for my readers to win. :) </end plug> When I first started thinking about the concept of hot summer eats, barbecue foods were the first to come to mind. And thanks to the sweet lady who served as our cook in my sorority house in college [shout out to RV!], when I hear barbecue, I also think “mac and cheese.” She’d always serve BBQ chicken with mac and cheese, and that combo is fabulous!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

There are several mac and cheese recipes that I love–a stovetop version and a baked version–but both can be kind of fussy and time consuming. In the summer, especially when preparing food for a party or barbecue, speed is imperative. So when I found a recipe for a baked mac and cheese dish that used sour cream and shredded cheese for the sauce, I was pumped! That is SO easy and sounded fabulous. I also stirred in some of my kitchen staples–canned tomatoes and frozen corn–to kick up this dish a notch.

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

For flavors, I used some Gourmet Garden stir-in pastes: cilantro and chili pepper. I’ve used these so much in the past and am so glad to say that they’re a sponsor of #HotSummerEats! They’re so easy and convenient to use, and add a ton of flavor in one easy package! The result? This mac and cheese was super cheesy, super flavorful, and super delicious! The easy sauce was just as tasty as some of its more fussy counterparts, though you do have to give it a good stir after baking to evenly distribute to cheese. Small problems though, when this dish is so good! I hope you love it as much as we do. :)

one year ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
four years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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adapted from Good Cheap Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 8 ounces Jalapeno Light Cheddar Cheese, cut into chunks [I used Cabot; a pepperjack would also work]
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded – divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 10 ounce can diced tomato and green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup corn, from an ear of cooked corn or frozen works too
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Paste – from Gourmet Garden [or about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro]
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Pepper Paste – from Gourmet Garden  [or other spice like red pepper flakes or hot sauce, to taste]
  • Lightly Dried Cilantro – from Gourmet Garden, for topping [or chopped fresh cilantro]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while a large pot of water comes to a boil. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta until just under al dente, since it will cook further in the oven. In a large bowl, stir together Jalapeno cheese, half of the shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, and chili pepper paste.

When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the sauce in the bowl. Stir together to combine, then transfer to the baking dish. Note: there will not be tons of extra sauce, just enough to coat the noodles. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Stir pasta and sauce together in baking dish to recombine and then serve with additional cilantro.

For more #HotSummerEats recipes, click the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Gourmet Garden for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more information on their products.

 

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

Cheesy chicken pasta with tangy and sweet sundried tomatoes.. this is pretty much my new favorite Italian dish! 

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to tell you about this pasta, but it’s just so hard. It’s just so hard because it’s just so good! I mean, just look at the ingredients. What’s not to love? Cheese, chicken, tomatoes, pasta, half and half… simple, flavorful ingredients that always taste good–well, now they taste great together!

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

Truly, this pasta is the whole shebang… the whole package… everything you could ever love or want or need–and more! Besides being filled with delicious ingredients, it’s SO easy to make that it’s almost foolproof. If you can boil water you can make this delicious dish. I promise! Please make this creamy, cheesy, carby delight today. You won’t regret it! :)

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chocolate Baked Oatmeal
two years ago: Club Soda Waffles
three years ago: Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette 
four years ago: Salsas for Cinco de Mayo

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 35 minutes
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from Julia’s Album

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ounces sundried tomatoes, either packed in oil or dried like the ones from Trader Joe’s, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil [drained from tomatoes or extra virgin olive oil + some Italian seasoning]
  • 1 pound chicken, sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces
  • paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
  • 8 ounces small-medium pasta [I used campanelle, but rotini or penne would be great]
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil [or more fresh basil]
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2-1 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

If using sundried tomatoes in oil, drain oil and use 2 tablespoons for the first step. If not, disregard and use extra virgin olive oil plus a bit of Italian seasoning.

Set a large pot of water to boil for pasta and prepare according to package directions, reserving about 1 cup cooking water when finished.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat oil until glistening. Add chicken, then season with paprika on top side. Cook for one minute, then flip and season the other side with paprika. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes and garlic. Continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes until chicken is nearly fully cooked. Add half and half to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil. Then stir in cheese, continuing to stir until all cheese melts.

By this point, the pasta should be about done. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of cooking water.

Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to chicken and sauce mixture in the skillet. Stir to incorporate, then season with basil and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more seasoning if desired, then fold in cooked pasta. Stir together well and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, then serve and enjoy!