Hey! It’s Friday, which means I’ve got another great freezer recipe to post. I’m not vegetarian, but I don’t miss meat at all in dishes like this one. Vegetarian freezer meals aren’t easy to find, but here’s one that not only freezes beautifully but LOOKS beautiful too!
This isn’t my own original recipe. It’s a recipe my sister found somewhere and made for me once. I liked it so much that I went home and copied it as best I could. 🙂 I also made up the name. Because who doesn’t love rainbows? Bright, colorful rainbow bell peppers are one of my all-time favorite healthy foods. Beauties like these are the starring ingredient in this delicious meatless dish.
2 boxes whole wheat penne
2 jars of your favorite basic tomato pasta sauce
4 bell peppers in red, orange, or yellow (you may ramp up or scale back the veggie: noodle ratio as desired)
2 cups of baby carrots
1 large onion
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Prepare the penne according to directions on the package. Go al dente—for pasta freezer meals, overcooking your pasta may make it mushy when it thaws. As your penne is boiling, chop up the baby carrots, bell peppers, and onion into thin slices.
- Combine all the chopped veggies into a large bowl and toss with olive oil and a few generous sprinkles of garlic salt.
- Dump the veggies onto a cookie sheet or two lined with foil. Try to have the veggies lie out in one layer and touch each other as little as possible.
- Roast the veggies at 475 for 15–20 minutes or until you can see slight blackening and curling on the veggies. Roasting these vegetables brings out all their natural sweetness. 🙂
- Once veggies have roasted, put the veggies back into the large bowl you used before. Add in the cooked penne and dump your jars of pasta sauce over all of it. Mix and coat all the pasta and veggies with the red sauce.
- If you’re going to freeze this meal, go ahead and bag up your portions as desired. This recipe yields 12 adult-sized servings. You can bag these up individually in sandwich bags or put them into 2, 3, or 4 total larger freezer bags. I tend to eat this one a lot as either a lunch or a dinner on nights when my husband is at school, so I went for individual bags this time.
- On the day you want to serve this meal, thaw the bag of pasta in the fridge. You can warm this straight from frozen, but I find the texture is best if you thaw the noodles out ahead of time (morning of is fine for individual baggies but the night before is best for a family-sized bag). Thawing also makes it easy for you to transfer the noodles from the freezer bag you used to an oven-safe dish.
- Cover your oven-safe pan full of veggie pasta with foil and warm through. Setting the oven to 350 and leaving the pan to warm for 30 minutes is perfect if you’ve pre-thawed your noodles; go longer if you are working straight from frozen.
- Once your noodles and veggies are warmed through, remove the foil and top your pasta with cheese. I do about 1/4 cup of mozzarella per serving. Turn the oven on broil for 2–5 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.
On the Side
This pasta could be a complete meal, since it contains not just grains from the pasta but healthy fat from the olive oil as well as protein from the mozzarella. Dish up a big enough portion to stay full for a solid, balanced, one-dish meal with no sides required. However, I often toss together a green salad as a side just to round the meal out. If you’re a runner, a roll or breadstick on the side would make this a great pre-long-run dinner full of healthy carbs.
This data comes from divvying up this big batch into 12 individual servings (or for my family, 4 big bags. I then serve up about 1/3 a bag apiece for my husband and I and split the remaining 1/3 between my 5-year-old and 2-year-old).
Calories: 471 | Fat: 14g | Carbs: 68g | Protein: 22g
So there you go! If you are looking for delicious vegetarian freezer meals, look no further than this great recipe. 🙂