- 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)
- 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).
- Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente and drain.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the tomato sauce, cottage cheese, carrots, salt and pepper. Add the cooked spaghetti and toss until well-incorporated.
- 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.
- Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake uncovered until the cheese is golden, about a half hour.
- 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.