Tuesdays are one of our busiest days as a family, because we have to shift everything else around our afternoon Music Together class. Class is from 4-4:45, and depending on how much time we chat afterward, and how long it takes to get Simon into his sneakers and jacket, we sometimes aren’t back home until after 5. Considering that we usually eat dinner at 5:30 so that Simon can have the bedtime his body needs, this does not leave much time to prepare a meal. Therefore, Tuesdays we either fix a frozen pizza with a vegetable on the side, or I prepare something in the morning that can either burble away all day in the crock pot, or be heated quickly when we get back.
This week, I already had all the ingredients on hand to make a pasta bake, so I decided to give it a shot. I am always nervous about winging it and making up my own recipes, but I waited too long to read the pasta bake recipes that I had gathered up ahead of time. So wing it I did, and I am happy to report it came out yummy!
Earlier in the day, I prepped everything.
First, I put some water on and boiled my pasta, adding a few pinches of salt to the water.
While the noodles boiled, I grated up some parmesan cheese and got out my breadcrumbs. I make homemade breadcrumbs by grating up any leftover or stale bread we have on hand, adding it to a jar, and keeping it in the freezer. This way I always have my own homemade breadcrumbs on hand when I need them. (I find the store-bought variety to be too much like sand.)
I also poured a layer of frozen veggies into the bottom of my casserole dish and added a sprinkle of my favorite garlic and herb seasoning, followed by a few spoonfuls of my favorite jarred pasta sauce.
When the pasta was cooked to al dente, I drained the liquid and then poured the noodles over the top of the veggies in my casserole dish. See the steam?
I covered up the dish, popped it in the fridge, and we got ready to go to class.
When we returned home, the first thing I did when we walked in the door was turn my oven to 375 degrees and pop the dish in to bake. (No real need to preheat and waste extra energy.) It baked about 15-20 minutes and when the whole thing was warmed through, the cheese was melted, and the bread crumbs were brown it was done!
This turned out really delicious, and saved me so much agony over getting a home cooked meal into our bellies on time. The only thing I would change next time is the veggie to noodle ratio. I hadn’t expected so much pasta when I layered the veggies, and so next time I might actually double the vegetables.
I will definitely be doing many more premade dishes like this on future busy days.