RECIPE: SOUTHWEST MACARONI BAKE
Who says comfort food can’t be healthy?
Go for spelt macaroni (or some other whole grain version that is full of fibre), use mushrooms instead of meat (trust me, the texture is the same, the calories much less and the nutritional value much higher) and throw in some fresh kale for another vitamin kick.
Your friends and family will ask you to make it again!
PREP TIME: 15 min
COOK TIME: 45 min
FOR THE PASTA BAKE:
1 ½ cups (200 g) spelt macaroni
1 ½ lb (750 g) fresh mushrooms
One 14 oz (400 g) can diced tomatoes
One 5 oz (140 g) can tomato paste
1 sachet TASTE OF SANTA FE spice blend
1 ½ cup (150 g) grated cheese (cheddar or aged gouda)
One 4 oz (113 g) can diced green chilies*
4 cups chopped fresh kale (100 g)**
1 cup (250 g) plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1-3 TBSP chopped jalapenos (to taste/heat tolerance)
Extra grated cheese
Fresh chili or Spanish pepper, thinly sliced
1) Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C
2) Cook pasta according to direction on package
3) Blitz mushrooms in a food processor or blender to a course mince, then cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes to evaporate off a bit of their natural liquids.
4) When pasta is finished cooking, drain, rinse and add to a large bowl with the cooked mushrooms and all of the other ingredients. Mix well to fully combine.
5) Transfer contents of bowl to an oven-proof backing dish, cover with foil (or if the dish as a lid) and cook for 40 minutes
6) Remove foil or lid, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top, switch the oven setting to the top-down heat source (broil in the US/grill in the UK) and cook for 5 more minutes to brown the top.
7) Remove and let stand 5 minutes to set and cool.
Garnish as desired with extra cheese, cilantro, yogurt or sliced chilies. Salt & pepper to taste.
Recipe & Photo Credit: Cathy Menees
Cans of diced green chilies are hard to find in Europe (which is why all my expat friends and I pack them back with us after a visit to the US). But I’ve found that you can substitute 1-2 diced pepperoncini’s (groene peppers for the Dutchies).
If kale is out of season, substitute the same amount of fresh, chopped spinach leaves.
COOKING WITH MUSHROOMS
If using mushrooms, you can chuck them right into the mix without browning them first, just be aware that mushrooms will release a lot of liquid so you will end up with a slightly more soupy version than what you see in the photo. It will still taste great, so go for it when you’re pressed for time!