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Italian noodle casserole



Katie Lee on The Food Network often captions her pictures with #NoCarbLeftBehind. And in our opinion, there couldn't be a more perfect hashtag. Earlier this week, I was searching for a recipe that would be great to bring to a new mom and her husband. I stumbled on this Italian noodle casserole, and I just knew I had to whip it up for our family, too. Zucchini, pasta, tomato sauce ... lots of herbs ... and cheese. Lots of gooey cheese to top off this Italian goodness.


This dish came together quickly, which is great for busy weeknights. It also makes a TON, so it's perfect for potlucks and larger crowds. We topped ours with fresh basil (for decoration), but as it turns out, I loved the freshness the basil added. I would suggest slicing it into curls for an added pop of color as well as the extra punch! If you're gluten-free, this recipe easily translates with appropriate substitutions. I also used low-fat cheese, and it was just as delicious. And make sure you season to taste. I would probably increase the Italian seasoning as well as the salt and pepper. But as always, you do you!


Think of this casserole as a new-take on your favorite lasagna: lightened up, deconstructed and packed full of flavor ... and on the top in half the time!


xo,

Natalie & Ashley


Ingredients

  • 8 oz. penne or ziti pasta (use gluten free, if preferred)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini halved lengthwise, then halved lengthwise again and cut into 1/4 slices

  • 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed

  • 2 (15-oz.) cans tomato sauce (I used a 29 oz. can)

  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% for extra creaminess)

  • 3 oz. cream cheese (I used low-fat)

  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and coat a 9x13 inch casserole dish or glass baking dish with oil or cooking spray.

  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions, cooking slightly al dente.

  3. Place a large skillet over medium heat, and add the ground beef, onion, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

  4. Brown the ground beef, breaking up while cooking, until nearly cooked through. Drain any excess grease.

  5. Add the zucchini and garlic to the beef and saute for about 5 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Stir in the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  6. After the pasta is cooked and drained, return the pasta to the pot or a bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt and cream cheese until smooth. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared casserole or baking dish.

  7. Top pasta with an even layer of the meat sauce mixture, the sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted and lightly browned.

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