An easy, healthier pasta dinner: Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole
My husband just about flipped when I served this for dinner the other night… and not in a good way! He has been eating light, and he’s been trying his hardest to avoid eating an overload of carbs. We’re pretty much carboholics around my house.
I did my best to change his thinking. I explained that it was a lightened up recipe in the first place, there’s a good bunch of ZUCCHINI in it, and I’d be serving a very large side salad to go with a smallish portion of pasta. He eyed me suspiciously, but eventually he gave in to the carb craving.
Eating pasta, you see, can be manageable for a diet. Just wait until the NEXT day before you go back for seconds 🙂 And, if you happen to be following the Weight Watchers WW plan, you’ll find a link to the WW Points on the recipe card below.
Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large zucchini, chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ pound lean ground beef (7% fat or less)
- 4 cups cooked whole wheat penne (about 2¼ cups dry)
- 2 cups low fat marinara sauce (2g fat or less)
- 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Preheat the oven to 375℉. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, garlic and red pepper flakes, cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the beef to the pan and cook, breaking it apart with a spatula, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off any accumulated oil and discard.
- Add the cooked vegetables, penne and sauce to the pan and mix to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle fresh basil on top and serve.