In the blue-collar towns where I grew up the Italians were known for their colorful, productive gardens where they raised large amounts of food on tiny, urban plots. This colorful pasta dish, loaded with just-picked summer vegetables, is a tribute to that memory. But if fresh vegetables and herbs are not available you can use frozen veggies or dried herbs (1/3 as much). The recipe can easily be halved or doubled and it holds well for potlucks and picnics. Feel free to adjust the amounts and types of vegetables to use the fresh, seasonal items you have on hand. The goal is a colorful variety of flavors.
- 2 lbs ground beef, browned
- 1⁄2 lb wax bean, snapped
- 1⁄2 lb green beans, snapped
- 1 -2 zucchini, cubed
- 1 -2 yellow squash, cubed
- 6 -8 green onions, sliced
- 1 -2 green peppers (optional) or 1 -2 red pepper, diced (optional)
- 1 -2 eggplant, diced (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
- 2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (or substitute 2, 15 oz cans diced tomatoes)
- 2 -3 lbs cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
- 1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Brown ground beef and drain excess grease. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof pan.
- Saute green and wax beans, zucchini and yellow squash, onions, herbs, and eggplant/peppers (if using them), on medium-high heat until about half cooked.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes and heat until tomatoes get sort of wilted and juicy, stirring occasionally.
- Add browned, ground beef and bring to a gentle simmer. If the amount of juice seems inadequate (plum or grape tomatoes are less juicy than the canning and slicing types), add about 1/2 cup V8, tomato juice, or beef stock. But don’t make it too wet or the tortellini will get mushy and unappealing.
- Remove from heat. Toss with hot tortellini.
- Stir in the Parmesan and half the Mozzarella. Top with remaining Mozzarella.
- Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown.
- This is a meal in one casserole but, as with many pasta dishes, a salad of Italian greens and a loaf of crusty bread would add the final polish.
- Suitable for OAMC. Treat it as you would treat lasagna.
This was a very nice meal that was both colorful and tasty. To add to the confetti motif, I used tri-color tortellini. I loved all the fresh vegetables, which made it seem guilt-free. I followed the directions as posted, adding one 5.5 oz. can of V-8 juice, which was perfect. After I added the tortellini, parmesan, and mozzarella, I transferred everything to a 13x0-inch baking pan and topped it with remaining mozzarella. It took about 30 minutes to cook. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe. Made for Fall PAC 2012.
I had problems with this as we are only two and i had to figure quite a few things out here. As FloridaNative stated, Dh took the leftovers to lunch and his co-workers were quite jealous ;-) I will make this recipe next time i have to serve a crowd so i gave it 5 stars anywhere as i have had troubels finding crowed pleasing recipes and i think you can serve this cold as well. Made for RSC#14
OMG ~ this is an AWESOME dish! I cut the recipe in half, and used eggplants and both red and green peppers fresh from our garden. For me, this was just a wonderful flavor explosion in my mouth :) the different flavors certainly complemented each other, and I loved all the vegetables. Plus DH was able to use the leftovers for his lunch ~ he was a mighty happy man :) Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe, I will be making this again in the future. Made for RSC #14, August 2009