Got pasta-loving kids? Cheesy, comforting Veggie Confetti Rigatoni Bake wins smiles all around AND gets veggies into their little bellies.
I 100% empathize with my kids’ desire to eat cheesy pasta all the time. I mean… do you have to be a kid to love it, unabashedly? That gooey, creamy texture, that mild but rich flavor. If cheesy pasta is a kid food, then I am six years old forever.
Here’s a weeknight dinner idea that combines the best of both worlds: the world of indulgent pasta, and the world of fresh, colorful veggies!
How yummy is this Veggie Confetti Rigatoni Bake? Boy oh boy. How can I describe it? It’s-swipe a-fingerful-of-sauce yummy. It’s steal-back-for-third-servings yummy. It’s bookmark-it-to-make-it-again-and-again yummy.
The rich, cheesy sauce and chewy pasta are offset by light and tender veggies for perfectly balanced flavors that my kids love! I hope yours will, too.
Healthy, Colorful Confetti
Veggies galore make this colorful confetti so nutritious for little ones! We used carrots, peas, and broccoli, but you can swap in anything your family loves: think bell peppers, cooked mushrooms or spinach.
Cheese gives kids the calcium and brain-building fats they need to grow.
And the pasta provides the energy in the meal. About that, I have a confession to make: because I’m a nut for whole grains, I ordered some whole wheat pasta directly from Dellalo to make this dish. (Can you buy whole wheat rigatoni in your local stores? I was disappointed not to find it!)
Being purposeful in choosing whole wheat pasta is worth it for you, too. Here are a few reasons to get on the whole grain train:
- It’s truly an effortless swap to cook with whole wheat pasta.
- Whole wheat pasta contains more fiber and more vitamins than white pasta.
- Good quality whole wheat pasta is just as chewy and flavorful as white pasta.
- Carb-loving kids adapt quickly to whole wheat pasta.
Weeknight Mission: Possible
This recipe makes as ton of food, and it’s easy and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight. The veggies get cooked gently right in the same pot as the pasta, to cut down on dishes. You can even cook the pasta and veggies a day ahead, so all you have to do at 5 o’clock is cheese it up and slide it into the oven.
You’ll probably have leftovers (yay!) which would work beautifully in a preheated thermos sent off to school.
Veggie Confetti Rigatoni Bake
- 2 3/4 cup chicken broth, low-sodium
- 2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 clove garlic
- 1 pound pasta, rigatoni
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 bunch broccoli
- 1 cup green peas, frozen
- 2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a large pot, bring the broth, cream, crushed garlic, and pasta to a boil.
- Add the chopped carrots, then reduce the heat to low and cover until the pasta and carrots are tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in the broccoli florets, peas, and grated Parmasan cheese. Stir to melt the cheese, and remove from heat.
- Layer half the pasta into a large baking dish, then sprinkle 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat with the second half of the pasta and the remaining Mozzarella.
- Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until warm and bubbly. Serve immediately with a green salad or a piece of fruit.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie