As we’re nearing the end of October, it’s safe to say many people are enjoying the stereotypical (but still awesome!) fall favourites. Most of us are getting back into delicious comfort foods; enjoying warm tastes and aromas; eating more casseroles, soups, and stews; and of course, indulging in all things pumpkin. Enter: this easy to make, high protein pumpkin cottage cheese pasta bake!
Being a busy working mom with 2 little kids, I often look for recipes that I can make ahead of time or that come together quickly on busy weeknights. The post-school/daycare hanger is no joke!
I wanted to recreate a family favourite cottage cheese pasta bake recipe, modified to include more of those nutrient-dense foods that can also help us get through cold & flu season (we need all the help we can get, right?!)
The end result?
A pumpkin cottage cheese pasta dish that hit all the important points and that the whole family enjoyed:
Creamy and delicious comfort food
A meatless meal that still contains a good dose of protein
Nutrient-rich veggies (I was still able to harvest some swiss chard and kale from my garden!)
Here are some highlights and swaps that you can make if you’re in a pinch or to add variety:
Whole grain pasta: Provides nutrients like fibre, protein, and iron.
Easy swap: feel free to swap out for a legume-based pasta like chickpea pasta for even more protein + fibre
Swiss chard: This powerhouse veggie provides nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Easy swap: Try spinach or kale if you have those on hand instead.
Cottage cheese: This is the protein booster in the recipe. One ½ cup serving of cottage cheese contains 15 grams of protein!
Easy swap: Try ricotta cheese if you want an even creamier dish!
Pumpkin puree: This autumn darling provides a whopping dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, and some fibre. You can use canned pure pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling!) or make your own pumpkin puree.
A spin on a creamy, tasty, comfort food dish that will still provide a boost of protein and nutrients.
340 g uncooked pasta (I used penne, but any small shell or tube pasta will do such as gemelli, ziti or rigatoni)
2 cups (500 mL) of your favourite jarred tomato sauce
2 cups cottage cheese
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 cup finely chopped swiss chard/kale/spinach (any of these)
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
Cook pasta as per directions.
Combine: 1 cup tomato sauce, egg, cottage cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, pumpkin puree, chopped swiss chard/kale/spinach, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, garlic powder. Mix in with cooked pasta.
Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Cover with pasta mixture. Top with remaining ½ cup tomato sauce, remaining ½ cup shredded cheese, and Panko bread crumbs.
Bake covered with tin foil at 375 for 45 minutes. Take cover off and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
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