Family dinners are important. Though my husband is rarely home for dinner, the kids and I eat dinner together five or more nights a week. We’re not alone. According to the results of the Family Meals Survey 2011 that I conducted earlier this year, 72.4 percent of those responded also eat together 5 or more times a week.
It’s heartening to know that so many people make eating together as a family a priority.
Still, it takes work and commitment to eat together nightly. And sometimes, I fail at that (do you?). Sometimes, dinnertime comes so fast that my head spins. And on those nights, I end up heating up leftovers for the kids or falling back on a few quick meals that I can whip up at the last minute.
I prefer when I have a plan — everything goes much smoother.
Last night I made the plan for tonight’s dinner. I’d been working on some behind-the-scenes work on my site when I found an old recipe that cried out for a little updating. Today was the perfect time for that.
This is a revamp of a pasta casserole that I wrote about years ago here on Sarah’s Cucina Bella. The original recipe was a favorite of Will’s, but I haven’t make it in years, so things have changed — both with the way I cook and the way I write recipes.
For the update, I’ve traded the original green beans for sweeter wax beans and added scallions to the mix, as well as switching up the method a little. The result is a cheesy casserole that the kids cleaned off their plates. Although the beans are sauteed and baked, they retain a sweet crunch that was a nice contrast to the meaty mushrooms and sharp cheddar.
After dinner, Will asked to take the leftovers for school lunch tomorrow. Score!
With about 10 minutes hands-on time, this recipe is easy enough to whip up on a school night. All in all, it goes from raw ingredients to dinner table in about 35 minutes.
While I was outside photographing this recipe, my neighbor’s dog Pippy (who I affectionately refer to as our third dog) came dashing over to play with my beagles. Try as I might to get a good clear shot of the dogs playing, I just couldn’t in the early evening light. Still, I smile every time I see this shot of Pippy and Snoopy in mid-stride. Snoopy doesn’t normally move this fast.
Mushroom, Wax Bean and Cheddar Pasta Bake
8 oz fiori pasta, cooked
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, chopped
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1 cup wax beans, ends trimmed and beans halved
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, scallion, mushrooms and beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the mushrooms shrink and turn brown.
Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Add the vegetable broth and stir vigorously to pull up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cheese along with salt, to taste.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a 2 1/2 quart oven-safe dish. Bake for 20 minutes.