As the leaves fall and the days grow shorter, we begin to shift our cooking and eating habits as well. We fill our pantries with tea, soup, pasta, and spices, anticipating all of the chilly nights ahead. The grill gets put away, and we dig the slow cooker out of storage. Instead of crisp, raw veggies, we start reaching for hearty, savory ingredients.
Comfort food should make you feel good — nourished and satisfied, not weighed down or heavy. The generations that came before us were quite good at combining ingredients and flavors that filled bellies, as well as hearts, with warmth. But admittedly, in many cultures’ traditional comfort foods, nutrition and wellness were not always top-of-mind. That’s why we’ve taken the concept of cozy pasta bakes and casseroles and given them a modern refresh: plenty of vegetables, a lighter hand with the dairy, and, of course, our nutrition-packed yellow-pea pasta.
The changing of the seasons is the perfect excuse to explore the vast array of ZENB recipes! We’re betting that these five recipes might become some of your new favorites:
For many of us, the flavors of Italian-American food signify the ultimate comfort, reminiscent of meals at grandparents’ homes, or special occasions (like pizza night!). The trifecta of tomato sauce, bubbling melted cheese, and fresh basil is instantly soothing and familiar. This super-easy bake brings all these ingredients together in a meal that can arrive piping hot to the table in just 30 minutes, thanks to quick-cooking ZENB Pasta Agile and our Roasted Tomato Gourmet Pasta Sauce.
Better-for-you updates include using lean ground turkey (which also saves time, as it doesn’t require draining), and less cheese than a typical baked pasta dish.
Is mac-and-cheese the ultimate cozy-times dinner? For lots of us, the answer is, “Hell yes!” Tangy, spicy buffalo chicken also holds a place of honor in the canon of comfort foods, so bringing them together only makes perfect, delicious sense.
Time-saving hack: Our recipe cleverly uses a rotisserie chicken for all the juicy flavor with none of the work!
Baked spaghetti is pretty much guaranteed to chase the cold-weather blues away, and it is a real crowd-pleaser, especially if there are kids at your table. In our lower-calorie version, ZENB pasta brings protein and fiber to the party, and our roasted tomato and garlic sauce sneaks in some extra servings of vegetables, with a little bit of help from additional eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and shallots.
Instead of drowning the whole thing in a mountain of cheese, as many pasta bakes call for, we lighten things up with just a touch of part-skim ricotta and a touch of grated Parmesan.
Meatballs smothered in sauce and cheese?! Yes, please! ZENB’s version, which bakes up in a rustic skillet, delivers all the umami flavors you crave. Homemade meatballs using extra-lean beef are tender and juicy, and make a heavenly main dish with ZENB Elbows Pasta, part-skim mozzarella, and savory marinara sauce.
To speed up the recipe, use jarred sauce, or ZENB’s Sweet Carrot and Tomato Marinara, which adds one cup of whole veggies per serving to the dish!
Pasta carbonara (traditionally bacon + pasta + eggs + cheese) is a one-way ticket to comfort food paradise. Our casserole version is an inspired take on the Roman classic: It comes together quickly and bakes in just 25 minutes. Each bite of bacon-flecked, creamy pasta is dinnertime gold. There are lots of ways to customize this recipe, too, like adding shredded rotisserie chicken for a heartier dish, or substituting vegetarian bacon (just be sure to add 3 tablespoons of butter or oil to the skillet before making the roux for the sauce). Leftovers are easy to freeze and reheat for instant future meals!
There is so much more to discover in the ZENB recipe collection! In fact, we’ve got over 150+ plant-fueled recipes to try for whatever mood you’re in. For more info and inspiration on living a balanced life, follow ZENB on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.