Basil Veggie Casserole and the Art of Repurposing

I have a confession– I have a really wasteful habit when it comes to groceries. What usually happens is I purchase things with lots of ambition and I have all these ideas of dishes I will make with the grains, vegetables, fruit and herbs I buy. In reality, I usually made 2 big meals and the rest of the time I default to salads and smoothies. I know this about myself. With what is left, I feel bored and uninspired. Some things spoil, and others sit around in my pantry till they call to me again.


Can you relate, or am I alone on this?


This past Sunday I was looking online at my grocery list to have them delivered, and realized, there was nothing I had to have– I just wanted new food. Instead of clicking purchase and having my groceries delivered, I challenged myself. What was already in my fridge that I could make and enjoy? I needed to find a way to repurpose what I had and turn it into an all new meal to keep my attention.


I needed something with protein, fiber and a good balance of color and variety. I remembered I had veggies leftover from a stir fry I made, half a bag of noodles, an opened jar of tomato sauce, a can of kidney beans and yogurt cheese.


I grabbed an oven safe container and got to work on what turned out to be an effortlessly delicious meal. I’ll buy groceries later when I’ve actually run low on food. In the long run this will save me loads of money and help me be more disciplined about my consumption.







The recipe:

  • 1.5 cups dry pasta
  • 1.5  cups cooked veggies. I used lightly steamed broccoli and frozen peas
  • 1/2 can or 8 oz of cooked beans (use more if you like)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil ribbons
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt to taste if desired
  1. Set pasta to boil and cook to al dente. Noodles should be firm.
  2. Mix cooked pasta with veggies, beans tomato sauce, oregano, basil, and 1/2 cup cheese
  3. Add casserole mixture to baking dish and cover with 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes till cheese has melted.



If you liked this recipe, then you’ll love my recipe of how to make a pizza omelette! Check it out here.

Blogstar Moms | The Brown Vegan

Q1: How long have you been vegan and does your entire family eat a vegan diet?brown vegan 1 I’ve been a vegan for 3 years.  Even though my husband and sons aren’t vegans, they enjoy a lot of vegan meals. In the beginning, I wanted the whole family to transition, but soon realized it takes time.  My children weren’t born into this lifestyle, so they still remember a lot of our previous bad habits.
I will say my family’s taste buds are starting to change.  They’re so accustomed to eating vegan meals (since I do most of the cooking), I notice they reach for healthier choices when we’re at a BBQ or dining out.Even if my kids never make the full transition, I’m still happy to set a solid foundation of vegan options for them while they’re still young. My husband has made a lot of progress and I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to become a vegan.
 Q2: How challenging is it to make sure you and your family get a balanced meal? So many kids hate veggies. How do you get yours to eat them?A2: I have to say it was very difficult in the beginning to get my sons to eat more vegetables.  I have three boys and my middle son didn’t want anything but hotdogs and chicken nuggets.  I stay consistent with serving the vegetables, make sure the vegetables are flavorful and find creative ways to serve them plant-based meals.  I’m happy to say that my boys enjoy vegetables more than they did in the past.  I even started a series on my YouTube channel to show the vegan meals we eat as a family.  brown vegan 2
 An easy and yummy vegan recipe (Click photo):brown vegan 3  Q3: How do you find the time to stay active and keep your self fit while you are so busy?A3: I stay active by going on long walks with the boys and by playing basketball with them.  It’s a great way for us to spend time together and for me to sweat a little.
How can we find you?



Lemon Pepper Pasta

Anyone who knows me well, knows how well I love Trader Joe’s. My entire immediate family does, and with all of the unique food items they have, it just never gets old! The first time I had pappardelle (Pronunciation: pa-par-DAY-lay ) pasta was at quaint little Italian restaurant in Monterrey, California when I was visiting my good friend Sonia. I wasn’t used to the wider noodles, but I got over it quickly since they were freshly made and under a delicious and smooth sauce. To some people all noodles taste the same but to me, the size and shape makes a huge difference for the dish. This pappardelle pasta from Trader Joe’s is different from others because it is colorfully flavored with lemon pepper seasoning.

You will need:

  • Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta or regular pappardelle pasta
  • Sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 small zucchini (italian squash)
  • 1/4 cup Pine nuts
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded basil
  • 1/4 cup of Kalamata olives

1. Boil pasta according to the instructions on the package. Al dente is probably best, so no longer than 10 minutes.
2. Chop veggies. Take one large zucchini and slice it in half and then cut length-wise into large pieces. Chop or shred basil leaves into pieces.
3. Saute zucchini until browned on medium high heat in one tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a dash of sea salt and garlic salt. I flipped the pieces over so they could become crispy brown on the fleshy parts of the zucchini. Once nearly tender, add 1/4 cup of pine nuts to toast them.
4. Toss cooked and drained pasta with cooked zucchini, pine nuts, basil 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and kalamata olives.

Tip: Make this is a complete meal by adding a protein of your choice such as chicken breast, garbanzo beans, or fish. Top with feta, basil leaves  or pine nuts for garnish. Enjoy!