Healthy AND delicious come together in this baked pasta dish inspired by the cuisine of Northern Italy. A beefy tomato sauce studded with plenty of roasted vegetables and fibre-rich lentils enrobes whole-grain noodles. Topped with creamy ricotta cheese, this recipe is perfect for serving a hungry crowd.
Bolognese Sauce: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened. Increase heat to medium-high and crumble in beef; sprinkle with herb seasoning and salt. Cook, stirring often and breaking up with a spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned (do not drain).
Add wine; cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils and 2 cups water. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer sauce, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes or until thickened and lentils are cooked through. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
Roasted Vegetables: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk oil with garlic, herb seasoning, salt and pepper; toss to coat with zucchini, bell pepper and eggplant. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; roast vegetables, tossing once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until softened.
Pasta: Prepare penne according to package directions; drain and return to pot with the prepared sauce and roasted vegetables. Gently toss to combine and transfer to a (3.5 L) deep, ovenproof baking dish (round/rectangle). Top with mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Tent loosely with foil.
Reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake pasta dish for 20 to 25 minutes or until gooey and bubbling on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
• Customize the combination of vegetables to suit your family’s preferences. Try mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
• Add a pinch or two of hot pepper flakes to the sauce for a spicy version.
• Short cut this recipe by using some prepared ingredient to get this dish on the table in less than an hour. Brown the beef and simmer with wine, then stir in 3½ cups prepared marinara sauce. Add 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) drained lentils; simmer for 10 minutes. Toss with roasted vegetables and spoon over cooked noodles. Skip the mozzarella and dollop with ricotta to serve.
Per serving: 545 calories | 35 g protein | 29 g fat | 60 g carbohydrate | 26% DV iron | 65% vitamin B12 | 46% DV zinc