This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Frozen Food Foundation. All opinions are 100% mine.
I have a food blogger friend who posted a great recipe in the middle of last year’s brutal winter. She ended up getting a snarky comment about her use of frozen vegetables in the recipe. Well, this other blogger and I live in roughly the same part of the country, so we know what sort fresh produce is available to us in the winter months (thus, we both laughed off this comment). I mean, last weekend, I went to the farmer’s market. Granted, I got there a little late in the morning, but every single farmer’s table was selling carrots. JUST carrots. That’s all that was available, and it’s only the beginning of November!
That’s a big reason why I’ve been eating frozen vegetables since I was a kid, and I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I still cook with them often now. It helps to think of freezing as simply “nature’s pause button” (catchy tagline, right?). Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak ripeness, locking in the nutrient value the minute they’re frozen. Additionally, frozen produce is often much more affordable than out-of-season fresh produce that can be found at your grocery store. Even better, you don’t have to worry about frozen fruits and vegetables spoiling before you can prepare them!
The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, conducted a study that revealed that frozen fruits and vegetables are most often (or generally) nutritionally equal to – and in some cases better than – their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a convenient, affordable and easy to serve option that is nutritious. They provide essential nutrients like Vitamin C (for healthy skin, bones and muscles), Vitamin E (for heart health) and Zinc (for a great immune system).
I use boxed frozen vegetable medleys to get a healthy side dish on the table quick on busy weeknights. I also love using frozen berries in my morning smoothies. One of my favorite ways to make sure I get plenty of vegetables is by folding them into a big pasta dish. Here, I’ve stirred together penne pasta, cooked chorizo (Mexican sausage), black beans, classic frozen mixed vegetables, sour cream, tomato sauce and shredded cheese. I poured it into my favorite casserole dish and baked it until it was nice and bubbly. Garnish with cilantro and green onion, and you have a veggie-loaded pasta bake that’s bursting with flavor!
Mexican Pasta Bake
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 1 pound chorizo (casings removed if necessary)
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 2 cups classic mixed frozen vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans and peas)
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese, divided
- 1 cup sour cream
- Chopped cilantro and green onions, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Heat large pot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook as label directs. Drain and return pasta to pot.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until fully cooked, using side of spoon to break up meat. Spoon off excess fat and discard.
- Add beans, tomato sauce, vegetables, 1 cup cheese, sour cream and chorizo to pasta; stir until everything is well combined. Pour into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
- Transfer to oven and bake 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Serve garnished with cilantro and green onions.