One very appealing thing about eating fruits and vegetables is the color. In my opinion, eating something that looks so pretty, fresh, and bright makes it that much more enjoyable (aside from all of the great health benefits that come from eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies!). This recipe is one of my new favorites. I actually came to find that I enjoyed it more the second day cold rather then hot the night that I made it, but it is great either way! I love tortellini pasta, but it isn’t the most calorie-friendly pasta, typically because of the fillings that are used. I decided to lighted up this pasta a little by combining it with a variety of colorful vegetables and baking it in a light tomato sauce. By using a lot of veggies, I allowed myself eat a larger portion and think that I was eating a lot of pasta, when really the majority of the dish was veggies! If you are a volume eater, this is always a great trick to use. My veggies of choice were artichokes, eggplant, tomato, and zucchini. This is also a vegetarian dish which can very easily be made non-vegetarian by adding a little grilled chicken or other proteins of choice.
Summer Vegetable Tortellini Bake: Serves 4
- 1/2 large eggplant, cut into 3/4 in round slices then cubed into about 1″x1″ pieces
- 3/4 zucchini, cut to about the same size as the eggplant
- 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, and cut in half
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 can diced tomatoes with no added salt
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 cups spinach tortellini pasta
- dried basil, black pepper, dried thyme, garlic powder, lemon pepper (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
On either an outdoor or George Foreman grill, grill your zucchini and eggplant until you have nice light-brown grill marks (do not cube the eggplant rounds until after then are grilled). *To rid some of the moisture from the eggplant and prevent sticking, sprinkle the rounds with a little salt and let sit for about 2 min, then pat with a paper towel.* Season your eggplant and zucchini with dried basil, dried thyme, pepper, and garlic powder as they are grilling. In the mean time, cook your tortellini in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Don’t over cook them! I used spinach tortellini, but use your favorite!
Once your tortellini in finished, and your veggies have been grilled and cubed, combine them in one large mixing bowl. At this time, also add your cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and 1 can of diced, no-added salt tomatoes with the juice. Stir your mixture and season with a little extra herbs, pepper, lemon pepper if preferred, and garlic powder (season to your liking; I did not add salt, but you can if you would like!). Add your 2 kinds of cheese and stir just until incorporated. Drain a little bit of the excess juice by holding your mixture back with a large spoon and draining over the sink. Spray a baking dish (I used an 8×10) with a little cooking spray and evenly distribute your mixture into the dish. I had a little extra (which I just ended up eating), but if you are using a larger baking dish this may not occur. Sprinkle a little extra mozzarella cheese on top if you like your dishes cheesy (which I definitely do!).
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. You should see bubbling towards the bottom of the dish, and all of the cheese should be melted. If not, cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. As I stated earlier, I actually enjoyed this better the second day cold, so save any extra for leftovers! Enjoy!
What are your favorite summer vegetables??