Did you know that National Pasta Day is October 17th? Who knew? I mean, seriously, every day is National Pasta Day in my family. It’s easy and quick and you know that your kids are going to love it.
For this year’s National Pasta Day, I was invited by Ragu® for a hands-on cooking event where we got to see a demo by Ragu’s Chef Joanne and then was able to put our knowledge to the test by making our very own dishes.
We got our hands on some fresh herbs, vegetables, meats and produce and of course, Ragu sauce. We were paired up with a partner, which was great because we got to divide and conquer — and the best part? We didn’t have to prep or clean up! We decided to make the Eggplant “Lasagna” and the Califlower “Mac” & Cheese and got to work in the kitchen.
My cooking partner, Sara from NYC Nom Nom, showing off our prized Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese. This is a super-duper easy-cheesy recipe and I am willing to try this one on my kids and see if they will even detect the cauliflower!
The two recipes that Ragu shared with us are below. And I triple-dare you to try them out on your family to see if they miss the pasta in these impasta’s!
Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese Recipe
Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 15 mins
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets, stem sliced into small pieces
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp. butter or margerine
- 1 jar (16 oz.) Ragu® Double Cheddar Sauce
Preheat oven to 375°
Melt butter in small saucepan and add bread crumbs. Stir to combine well and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat
In medium sauce pot, bring salted water to a boil and add cauliflower. Cook until crisp/tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and return to pot. Stir in Ragu Double Cheddar Sauce and mix well.
Pour into prepared 8×8-inch baking dish. Top with crumb mixture and bake 15 minutes or until bubbling and the breadcrumbs are toasted on top.
Tip: To make it extra special, you can add in frozen peas and crisp cooked, crumbled bacon or a small can diced green chilies just prior to topping with crumb mixture and baking.
Eggplant “Lasagna” Recipe
Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 25 mins | Cook Time: 50 mins
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 9 slices
- 1 cup canned rinsed and drained chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- 2 large Portobello mushrooms, halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick-slices
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 container (16 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 cups Ragu® Sauce
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F, Brush 2 baking sheets with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Arrange eggplant on baking sheets. Brush with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bake 20 minutes or until golden; set aside
Meanwhile, process chickpeas or garbanzo beans in food processor until ground; set aside. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook mushrooms, red pepper and onion, stirring occasionally, 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Combine ricotta cheese, beans, egg and garlic in medium bowl; set aside.
Spread 1/2 cup Ragu® Sauce in 8-inch glass baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Arrange 3 slices eggplant on Sauce, then spread with 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture, then 1/2 cup Sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with 3 slices eggplant, remaining ricotta cheese mixture, remaining mushroom mixture, then remaining eggplant. Evenly top with remaining Sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is nicely browned.
Tip: Use any combination of vegetables you like in the sauteed mixture. We added sauteed ground beef and onions, or you can replace the ground beef with ground turkey. We then layered the beef mixture after the cheese mixture.