Creamy Penne Pasta Bake with Zucchini
A Creamy Pasta Bake for Spring.
Mac and cheese gets a makeover. Just in time for swimsuit shopping (also affectionately known around here as the annual Parade of Shame). It's time to start cooking light again, and give your body a break from all that white rice pasta, butter, and double cheese. It's time to kiss bacon good-bye. Hot weather is coming, Babycakes. The beach and poolside beckon. And I am not prepared. Are you?
I've been lax with my downward facing dogs (actually, I'm forbidden to do downward facing dogs these days, but that's another story). My lumbo-pelvic complex is cranky. My core is catnapping. And my biceps need curling. Or something like that. What it basically means is I've got some flab I need to banish. Remember that roll around my middle I call Doris? She's still here. She has not skedaddled. My usual winter weight gain of five hibernation pounds is eight this year.
I could blame those Raspberry Coconut-Almond Bars my husband keeps making (he who can eat cookies and brownies and still sport flat abs). I could blame fructan and fructose, and various unfriendly members of FODMAPs who may be the bottom line bloat culprit in my ongoing emulation of my halcyon pregnancy days (those of you with IBS symptoms despite going gluten-free might want to look into this whole fructose blah blah polyol thing).
But mostly I blame how much time I spend on the iMac. Sitting. Typing. Sitting some more. Social networking. The Internet is an amazing gift. But it is damn hard on the body. I'm vowing to get up and move more frequently. Shake my booty. Feel the burn. Or at least feel some heat.
So just in case you're in the same mood, too. I've made a lighter version of the classic baked mac and cheese.
I used gluten-free penne for the pasta. Organic soy milk and Smart Balance vegan "butter" for the cream sauce. Zucchini and garlic and chives for a flavor boost. And it was fab. Light. Creamy.
Perfect for Spring.
Allergic Living magazine is now publishing a US edition. Lucky us! And I am delighted to announce I am a small part of it. The American launch issue is chock full of gluten-free goodness- including my article, Perfect Harmony (featuring three of my gluten-free, dairy-free recipes, including a brand new Carrot Cake recipe with orange frosting, and a new Orange Scented Soda Bread to accompany a light, vegan potato soup), Sloane Miller's Guide to Smart, Safe Dining, kitchen tips from Ming Tsai and Susur Lee, Gluten-Free Girl's Plane Lucky on flying gluten-free, beautiful Spring recipes from Chef Simon Clarke, the latest g-free news from celiac expert Shelly Case, and much more.
How gluten-free cool is that?
Creamy Gluten-Free Penne Pasta Bake Recipe with ZucchiniBy Karina Allrich April 2011.
This fresh as a breeze Spring pasta bake is light and easy, vegan and gluten-free. The creamy non-dairy sauce is kid-friendly and mild. If your kids like a deeper, orange colored sauce, add half a teaspoon of paprika to the sauce and stir until blended.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil the bottom of a large gratin dish or casserole and set aside.
12 ounces gluten-free penne pasta
1 medium zucchini
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of dried dill or Italian herbs, to taste
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan butter such as Smart Balance
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 1/2 cups organic soy milk* see notes
1/4 cup gluten-free nutritional yeast* see notes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon mild rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon GF Dijon mustard, optional
For the topping:
Chopped fresh chives
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and partially cook the brown rice penne, till just this side of al dente. You don't want to cook it completely, or you'll end up with mushy pasta, after it bakes.
Meanwhile wash, trim, and slice the zucchini into half moons. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the zucchini and minced garlic, season with sea salt, ground pepper, and a dash or two of dried dill or Italian herbs. Stir to coat, and quickly stir-fry, just until the zucchini is tender-crisp. Don't overcook it. It will continue to cook in the oven.
Start making the creamy pasta sauce. Heat the olive in a medium saucepan and add the vegan butter. When the "butter" melts, add in the brown rice flour and stir with a whisk to make a paste. Heat it through, stirring and cooking the paste for a minute. Slowly add in the soy milk (or your milk of choice) and whisk the milk with the paste to combine. Add in the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, sea salt, nutmeg, rice vinegar and mustard (if using). Stir the sauce until it thickens and turn down the heat. If it gets too thick you can thin it with a dash of white wine, or more soy milk.
When the pasta is done, drain it well, and drizzle it with a touch of good olive oil. Pour the cooked penne into a large gratin dish or casserole. Add in the zucchini. Pour the sauce in and gently, very gently, combine the penne, zucchini, and sauce until the penne is coated. Sprinkle the top with fresh snipped chives.
Cover the dish with foil. Bake the penne in the center of a preheated oven for 20 minutes, until heated through and bubbling.
Cook time: 35 min
Yield: Serves 6
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I used organic soy milk in this sauce- and it helps make the sauce rich and creamy. If you cannot tolerate soy, try unsweetened, clean tasting hemp milk, almond milk, or light coconut milk (like So Delicious).
If you do not care for nutritional yeast, omit it and add one to two tablespoons creamy, mild raw almond butter or raw cashew butter. (Roasted will be too strong.)
Add 1/4 cup dry white wine to the sauce for a more "grown-up" flavor.
This creamy vegan sauce is also wonderful spooned over hot cooked pasta (if you don't have the time or inclination to bake it), or poured on steamed vegetables, even brown rice.