No. 289: Meal Train Tomato, Broccoli & Mozzarella Pasta Casserole

In one of my baby classes, I met a lovely twin mama to-be named Lara. We've had coffee a couple times, but as we both get closer to our due dates I think we're approaching the "text if you want to say hi" phase.

She's also had a much harder pregnancy than I have and is celebrating making it to 36 weeks with her two boys. That's a big deal!

Lara mentioned her family was putting together a meal train for her, and I jumped at the chance to help out. While my 'deliver a meal date' isn't until mid-April, I wanted to get this dish made, frozen and in her kitchen before I potentially can't really move or get it finished.

I know that last sentence sounds super dramatic, but bed rest is my biggest worry at this point:)

Tomato, Broccoli & Mozzarella Pasta Casserole

I found this casserole on The Kitchn when I specifically searched frozen meal options. It also seems filling and jam-packed with some healthy foods for a busy mama.

Ingredients

Serves 6
12 ounces farfalle pasta (also known as bowtie)
1 pound broccoli florets, frozen or fresh
3 large ripe tomatoes, divided
3/4 pound onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup chopped basil leaves, divided
1/2 pound fresh full-fat mozzarella, divided
3 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese (4 percent milkfat or greater)
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

To make

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt generously. Add the farfalle and cook for 11 minutes or until barely al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

Steam the broccoli in the microwave or in a steamer basket on the stovetop, just until tender. Drain thoroughly and chop roughly into bite-sized florets. Toss with the cooked pasta. Chop two of the tomatoes into rough pieces, and add them to the pasta. Stir in the chopped onion and minced garlic, along with the drained chickpeas, and 1/2 cup of the chopped basil. Tear about 2/3 of the fresh mozzarella into thumbnail-sized chunks and fold this into the pasta mixture.

Note: My pasta pot wasn't big enough to hold all this goodness, so I did my mixing in the pan itself.

Mixture all tossed in the pan

Whisk the eggs with the cottage cheese and lemon juice. Stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

Liquid mixture

Stir this liquid into the pasta mixture until well combined. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Casserole in the pan

Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish. Slice the remaining tomato into half-moons and arrange on top of the pasta. Tear the rest of the mozarella into bits and scatter between the rows of tomato slices. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

Ready to cook or freeze

At this point, you can freeze your casserole. Just cover tigtly with a lid or aluminum foil. If you want to enjoy it, read on for baking instructions.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese on top has melted and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the remaining chopped basil over top. Let stand for a few more minutes before serving.

If cooking after freezing, allow the casserole to defrost. Then follow the baking instructions above.

The results

I obviously haven't eaten this, but it does look incredible. It also froze beautifully for delivery to Lara and her hubby.

Be sure to use a massive pasta pot so you can stir all of this together in one place. Or you can do what I did and just mix everything in the pan itself.

If you do make this, send me a note about how you liked it!

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Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at theresolvedcook@gmail.com