Friday, December 3, 2010

Healthier Version - Rigatoni Bake - So Tasty You Won't Miss The Fat!

I try to make one meal a week that I can either freeze or parcel out for leftovers so that during the week when I am in a pinch (stuck in horrible traffic, in a bad mood, exhausted and not feeling like making anything) I can just reheat it. This not only saves money since I don't stop and pick something up, but it's healthier than many other last-minute options. I love pasta. I try to do whole wheat, or whole grain when I can. I do hear from my kids that they don't like it if it's "brown" but I am lucky that they don't notice if it has sauce on it. Most of the time they like their pasta plain with cheese anyway, so this lovely dish I made pretty much just for me and my hubby. It made more than one casserole dish, so I will not only save some for us for another dinner during the week, but also offer it as lunch to my children's caregivers who are at my house during the week when I am working. My husband,  who I'll call Chip for this blog, works an opposite schedule, so he eats his "dinner" while working.

Most baked rigatoni recipes call for ground beef. Why do it if you don't have to? Trust me, this is just as good, and you'll feel better about yourself knowing you took the lighter route.  Plus, this recipe has a little twist to it, I've added one of my favorite winter vegetables which can be used beyond just this meal.

Earlier in the week some of my running moms were discussing recipes, and I had mentioned I love roasted spaghetti squash and how easy it is to prepare. Well, I decided to make one and it really yielded a lot of "spaghetti" and I had at least 2 cups left over. I decided to put it to good use! For those unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, all you need to do is pierce it several times, and put it on a pan in the oven preheated to 400 degrees for 1 hr. Cut the bad boy open and use a fork to scrape out any seeds and all of the squash which should come away in spaghetti-like strands. It's easy enough to pour on a bit of marinara and have a good piece of bread and your done! Or if your family has heartier appetites you can use it more as a side along with a piece of chicken if you like.

Finally - getting to the rigatoni bake!

What you need:
1lb ground turkey
1lb whole wheat or multigrain rigatoni noodles
1 jar pasta sauce (I used Classico tomato and basil)
1-1/2 c. part skim grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1-1/2 c. cooked and stringed spaghetti squash
a couple dashes salt, garlic salt, pepper and red-pepper flakes which are optional
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, cook noodles until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet season the ground turkey with salts, pepper and red-pepper flakes if desired. Cook completely on medium to medium high heat. 

When pasta is done, mix with ground turkey, sauce, spaghetti squash, parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a large bowl. You may add any additional Italian spices if you wish, depending on your taste and the flavor of your sauce.  I wish I had used a larger bowl!

Spoon all ingredients into a large casserole dish sprayed lightly with non-stick spray. Depending on what type of dish you use you may not be able to fit it all into one. I used 1 (9x13) and a smaller one (pyrex loaf pan). Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Now, you can add more cheese to the top to make it thick and gooey, which sounds fabulous but remember we are trying to be healthier here. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes. And then...voila!
This had plenty of favor, I did not miss the fatty ground beef, and barely even noticed the spaghetti squash which is good if you are trying to disguise it for your kids! There are many variations you can make with this - using different vegetables, for example, or no meat at all. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded if there was less turkey and more spaghetti squash in this case. Mangia mangia!


  1. WOW, this looks soo yummy. When can I come over for dinner???

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I am now following!! I love meeting new moms!!

    Michelle @ The Adventures of Supermom

  2. That looks really yummy! Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hi! I'm signing up for more of yours now!

    <3 Donna

  3. I love this kind of stuff!!

    Thanks for visiting and following my blog . . . I'm following you back as well :-)

    Hope you have an awesome week . . . Gina
    . . . and many more!


Hungripeeps want to say: