Table for Two: Lasagna Baked Penne

PUBLISHED ON: 09.06.2016
Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak“~ Ma Ja Sati Bhagavati

As the idea of becoming an empty nester started to really take hold, so did the notion of making a real change in my perspective and priorities.  My mind and body are in constant motion providing a free uninhibited physical and mental space for irrelevant worries, tasks, endless to do lists, unknowns, projects, self-improvement, insecurities and the list goes on and on all fueled by projects, plans, and goals.  I have finally accepted that my energy is not boundless, and how it is expended lies entirely up to me.

As my youngest headed off to college to experience his new found independence, my husband and I took off for a serious vacation with friends from Spain.  This was an out of the ordinary vacation that took us from New York City on the east coast to the west coast from California to Washington.  During our journey the clutter in my brain began to diminish and with the natural beauty that surrounded me daily,  I was more reflective.  It was the small things that were having the most impact on me like eating simple meals at the table with friends in the late afternoon, drinking a glass of wine in the evening while staring at the sunset on Puget Sound and waking up to strong hot coffee in the morning.   My body physically moved most of the day but not to the noise of stress and exhaustion but to the humming of a more natural rhythm.

This was the moment of epiphany and it was crystal clear it was time to make real changes.

Where to begin….Started by making simple changes to my lifestyle which includes a simple meal plan scribbled on a piece of scrap paper.  No eating over the sink or while in motion.  Actually sitting at the table and eating.
Starting each day a little earlier to enjoy the pleasure of just sitting and enjoying my cup of coffee. This allows me to feel more centered and slowly move into my day.  Followed by ending my day a little earlier to give myself a little more downtime.
Enjoying a simply prepared pasta dish on Sunday serves as a good meal and a couple of healthy lunches during the week. This pasta dish provides for a generous helping of leafy greens and all the comforts of baked lasagna without having to take the time to layer.
Lasagna Baked Penne with Kale and Mozzarella
Serves 4
Recipe from Hello Fresh
1-lb. ground beef
12 oz Penne Pasta
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
8-oz kale, ribs discarded
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Chili flakes, to taste
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
4 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add the penne to the boiling water and cook for 9-11 minutes, until al dente.  Drain.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add chopped onion to the pan and cook, tossing 4-5 minutes, until softened.  Add the beef, garlic and oregano, and as much chili flakes as you like to the pan. Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned.  Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together the drained penne, beef mixture, tomatoes, kale, and half the mozzarella.  Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a lightly oiled baking dish (9×13) and sprinkle with panko and remaining mozzarella.  Place in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.
  • This looks so delicious! I love that you used kale here…so GOOD!

  • that second sentence…wow. that's me in a nutshell! i admire your determination to take life a little more slowly!loving this dish–there are only a few ways i'll eat and actually enjoy kale, and this is one of them!

  • Empty Nest is quite the adjustment, everything in your life seems to change. Truthfully, I am still adjusting after almost 20 years. Your trip sounded wonderful and certainly got your mind on other things.I'm always interested to know what others have bought, tried and have become their favorites from TJ's? One of mine is their Orange Chicken, I make my own Fried Rice to go with it and it is delicious. I am totally addicted to their Fleur de Sel Caramels. Because of that I try to stay out of TJ's as much as possible.Your recipe sounds delicious, I will have to try it.Carolyn

  • That does sound yummy and it sounds like you have made some changes for the better. Have a good week Diane

  • This looks wonderful. I make a similar recipe. Glad you are freeing your mind!

  • You spoke what's on my mind lately! Though we are not quite empty nesters our youngest is finally at a point where he can fend for himself. My husband and I have started setting our alarms a bit earlier do we can have time with each other and go to bed earlier to do the same. Years of child rearing and now it's time for us.We went to Washington and Oregon in March and I loved the beauty and the greenery there. It was a lovely trip.Thank you for this great dish. I need to start planning dinners and lunches so I can help myself out. This looks like a great dish to have on hand.

  • Change is good my friend!!! Enjoy life ????

  • great recipe and it must be a hard and emotional time, but your inner wisdom is guiding you and sounds like you are finding peace. Your a special person.

  • Wow, great recipe — just the sort of thing I love to make. And thought provoking post, too — change can be good, but you have to embrace it. Good read — thanks.

  • I love this so much, Velva. 🙂 Even though our circumstances are so different, I really resonate with the cluttered brain you describe, and the need for time away and time to sit quietly to get yourself sorted. XO

  • Mmmm This looks so delish ♥

  • Hi Velva, your recipe sounds very good and healthful. I totally agree with your life plan. We always did the dinner at the table with the kids everynight and now my daughter does the same. It really pays off but never forget to take time for yourself. That is how I got so OLD and Wise!!..Happy Week to you..Judy

  • It's so true about enjoying simple things, like a simple, good meal. This penne is a great example. It's nice to take time to reflect and breathe, isn't it. Enjoy!

  • \”Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak\” – such a beautiful quote and so true as well. Your vacation sounds liberating – completely agree with you it is the simple things in life that make us happy – a shared meal, seeing a friend, enjoying nature and delicious comfort food like your lasagna :-)Miriam

  • It's great that you took time to smell the roses and consider changes, Velva! Your lasagna looks delicious! Take care

  • I'm single, so always am looking for recipes for one or two. I often cut recipes in half and sometimes even in quarters…esp. for muffins and cookies etc. Love your yummy lasagna.Thinking of you through the storm. After Wilma, we didn't have electricity for three weeks!

  • It does take some getting used to, but I hope you find happiness in the changes very soon. Lovely meal! Have a lovely week.

  • This a super comforting dish! Wonderful, simple food like this is one of the best things on earth 🙂 Glad you got to unwind on your vacation and are making changes that keep you happy. Lovely post, Velva!

  • Change is good but often hard. Time to stop and savor every moment of this fast life we lead! Lasagne looks so delicious.

  • It was odd for us at first when Tristan left to join the Army. The meals were different, our time was our own without thought of calling to see if we needed to pick up three steaks or fish fillets instead of two. Different little things, and it's a great new phase to be in. I like your perspective on the change.Of course, I love your meal too.

  • Change is good! Embrace it! Now it is just \”two for tea…tea for two\” so enjoy that bit of cozy time. I love how cozy and simple this little pasta dish is to throw together. Looks delicious.

  • Hey Velva,I hope leaving this comment signs me up to follow your blog, I didn't see any other place to do it. I love this dish and hope to try it soon.Sharon

  • This recipe looks so nice! Yum ♥

  • Hopefully, your son will return home for the summer after school is over. That helps make the transition a little easier for a while 🙂 I had a tough time too and totally understand what you're going through. It's a big change only cooking for two but I find we eat much less as a result – which turns out to be a good thing 🙂 Delicious recipe! Love the addition of kale.

  • There's nothing better than lasagna for dinner….perfect comfort food!

  • As it happens I have lots of Kale growing in my garden! Perfect … Love the shot of the vino 🙂

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