Warm, cheesy and rich baked penne – what’s not to love? While pasta isn’t often considered a health food, there are several things you can do to make your favorite dishes healthier, such as using whole wheat noodles and sneaking in veggies. Here, Nancy Waldeck, a chef at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, gives baked penne a better-for-you makeover.
- 24 ounces whole wheat (or gluten-free) penne pasta
- 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped (for a vegetarian dish, use 8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms instead)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 head of roasted garlic*
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 recipe for Perfectly Easy Tomato sauce (see below)
- 16 ounces grated mozzarella
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
*To roast the garlic, simply cut off the top of a head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Enclose in aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, until soft. When the garlic is cool enough to touch, squeeze out the soft cloves.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the penne according to package instructions until it is al dente. While the penne cooks, sauté the prosciutto in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it is crispy around the edges.
Toss the peas, roasted garlic, Italian seasoning and prosciutto with the drained pasta. Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 10x12-inch baking dish. Top with half the mozzarella and half the parmesan. Pour the remaining pasta mixture on top and then add the remaining cheeses. Cover with foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done.
Perfectly Easy Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, grated
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bouquet garni (made with fresh herbs of your choice tied with kitchen twine)
In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat until it softens, about five minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for an additional minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and serve.