Being that the cost of ‘healthy’ meat is almost always higher than conventionally-raised meat, I’ve been looking around for meatless dinners that even my hubby would approve of. Several times recently I’ve come across people doing ‘Meatless Mondays’ and decided to look for something good! I came upon this Zucchini, Fennel, and White Bean Pasta from EatingWell.com that I thought might work.
I used almost the original recipe, but I substituted freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the goat cheese. Goat cheese is better tolerated by many people than cow’s milk cheese, but it has a very pungent flavor. This recipe had enough new flavors for my kids (namely fennel and mint), so I didn’t want to add something else to the mix!
Also, I don’t purchase fennel regularly, but I was familiar with what it looks like. But when I went to the store, what I thought was a fennel bulb was labeled as ‘Anise.’ Hmmm. So I scoured the produce department and didn’t see anything else that resembled what I thought a fennel bulb was. Thank goodness for smartphones!! I googled ‘fennel bulb’ and immediately saw that sometimes it is referred to as ‘anise.’ I found out later that even though technically fennel and anise are two different plants, many times they are labeled one in the same. I felt like a moron. :) I just wanted to mention this in case you run into the same situation!
Here is a picture of the fennel bulb you are looking for!
Again, the below recipe I used has been closely adapted from EatingWell.com
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (remove the 'hairy' part, just keep the bulb)
- 2 medium zucchini
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (2 cups) dry whole-wheat penne or similar short pasta
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup cooked cannellini beans or 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400°.
- Dice fennel bulb and zucchini into roughly ½-inch chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Lay out the veggies on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- While veggies are in the oven, boil water and cook your pasta according to the package directions. (You will be saving ½ cup of the pasta-cooking water before draining pasta).
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Remove from heat.
- When the pasta is done, measure out ½ cup of the pasta-cooking water. Add the water, beans, and roasted veggies to the skillet. Toss everything together over medium-low heat. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add the diced tomatoes and heat until just warm. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and mint.
We thought this recipe was so good! Both my kids really liked it, and my little girl told me it is her new favorite dinner! The roasted zucchini and fennel bulb really add some delicious flavor, and the mint adds a refreshing note. My husband said it tasted like a summer dish. I asked him if he missed having meat in his dinner, and he said, “Not at all!” I think there are so many flavors and textures going on that no one missed the meat. This dish is light yet filling, and we all really enjoyed it. I’m just excited to have another meal in our dinnertime repertoire!
Note: We did have a ton of dishes to clean after this meal because of the prep work… although it didn’t take long to actually prepare, it did take a lot of dishes! So I will probably save this recipe for the weekends when there’s not such a rush to get dinner all cleaned up! But it is definitely worth it. :)
Another Note: This meal has cheese and is obviously not dairy-free. But the cheese component provides the saltiness that brings all the flavors together. If you wanted to make this without cheese, I think you could make the noodles in chicken broth (if you have homemade, great!) in order to bring all the flavors together nicely!