Saturday, November 19, 2011


This is probably my family's favorite meal, not counting takeout pizza.  This actually has a lot in common with pizza, but is, I'm thinking, quite a bit healthier than the greasy takeout option.  This is also pretty quick to put together-- in about the time it takes to order pizza and run and pick it up.  If, unlike us, you have pizza delivery in your area, you may need to do your own cost-benefit analysis...

The veggies:

  • 4 oz Barilla Plus spaghetti or whole-grain spaghetti*
  • 1 cup bottled (or, by all means, home-made!) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups carrot puree**
  • salt, to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 4 large veggie sausages, browned and sliced, or about 9 ounces meatless meatballs***
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded (about a cup, depending on how cheesy you like it)

The love:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and oil a baking dish (I've used both a pie plate and an 9x9 square ceramic casserole for this).
  2. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente and drain.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the tomato sauce, cottage cheese, carrots, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked spaghetti and toss until well-incorporated.
  4. Spread about 3/4 of the pasta mixture in the baking dish, top with veggie meat balls or sausage slices, then layer on the remaining pasta and sauce.
  5. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake uncovered until the cheese is golden, about a half hour.
  6. Cool slightly, slice and serve.


*We love Barilla Plus pasta for its outstanding protein content and smooth texture.  But, whole grain pasta is a great option, too.  And, kids and husbands seem to notice the grainy texture less in baked dishes like this.
**Truthfully, my preferred method for making carrot puree was in my BabyCook baby food maker.  But, now that I've graduated from that, I just coarsely chop the carrots (3 or 4 large ones for this recipe, but you could always make extra for next time...), steam on the stovetop until just tender, then puree with a little steaming water until smooth but not runny.  Freeze any leftovers in pre-measured amounts for next time.
***My family's favorite "fake meat" addition to baked spaghetti is the apple sage variety of Field Roast sausage.  It has a great texture, is not too spicy for the kids (as opposed to the chipotle and Italian varieties), and is soy-free.  Unfortunately, the nearest store to us that carries Field Roast stuff is 65 miles and an 11,000-foot mountain pass away.  So, in a pinch I use something from my local grocery store, like Veggie Patch Meatless Meatballs (I'm not crazy about all that processed soy, though...).

Where credit is due:

This recipe is an veggie-fied adaptation of a recipe from Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld (as in Jerry's wife).  The book is not entirely vegetarian, but a lot of her recipes are either meat-free or easily adapted.  If you have a kid-- like my little Oliver-- in a phase where he won't knowingly consume vegetables, she has lots of good tips for sneaking them in.

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