Here’s a terrific recipe that makes a complete meal, with something from all 4 food groups! The pasta does not require any pre-cooking so you save preparation and clean-up time.
Yield: Serves 6
1 lb (500 g) lean ground beef
1 cup (250 ml) sliced onions
1 cup (250 ml) diced zucchini
2 tsp (10 ml) minced garlic
1 can (28 oz [796 ml]) stewed or diced tomatoes, with juice
2 tbsp (25 ml) sodium reduced soya sauce
½ tsp (2 ml) crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups (500 ml) rotini (or other spiral pasta)
1½ cups (375 ml) shredded Cheddar cheese
13- by 9-inch (3 L) baking dish, greased
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, combine ground beef, onions, zucchini and garlic; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are softened. Drain fat; pour beef mixture into baking dish. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, drain juice from tomatoes into an 8 cup (2 L) microwave safe measuring cup; add water to make 2 cups (500 ml). Roughly chop tomatoes; add to measuring cup. Stir in soya sauce and red pepper flakes. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until very hot. Stir in rotini.
3. Pour tomato pasta mixture into baking dish and combine with meat mixture. Press pasta down to make sure it is submerged in the liquid. Bake in preheated oven, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove cover; stir gently and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.
To freeze: Wrap well in plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To serve: Thaw in microwave or in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Unwrap and bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.
From Dietitians of Canada: Great Food Fast
If you are concerned about sodium, use light soy sauce instead of the regular variety. One tbsp (15 ml) regular soya sauce contains 1037 mg sodium; the same amount of sodium reduced or light soya sauce contains only 605 mg.
This quick family meal is even faster to make when you have tomatoes and zucchini handy in the freezer. Vegetables will freeze well for up to 1 year.