Baked Goat Cheese and Pesto Reduced Carb Pasta

When my mind is
racing and I need a break, I love to curl up in front of the TV and watch home renovation or cooking shows. It usually doesn't matter which one. The shows are a wonderful distraction that take me away from the chaos for a bit.  

A couple of weeks ago I tuned in to Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman. I can't remember what the focus of this show was, but I was intrigued by her baked goat cheese sheet pan pasta sauce.  There is a famous sheet pan pasta recipe that has been going around the internet for quite awhile using feta and cherry tomatoes. I tried that one and while it was good - I didn't think it was great.  I had been intending to play around with the recipe for awhile, but when I saw this I knew I had to try it.

As always, I make adjustments to make a recipe my own. Drummond used 8 ounces of  Campanella pasta, but I wanted to reduce the carbs. My favorite trick is to use spaghetti noodles and decrease the amount to half - so 4 ounces. I then spiralize a medium carrot and a medium zucchini and place them in my strainer. I drain the cooked pasta over the spiralized veggies to soften them, and toss. Voila - carbs (and calories) cut in half, more veggies in the meal, and you still get a little pasta to enjoy. 


In the end, it was not only super easy to make, but I enjoyed it a lot. The spiralized carrot and zucchini added a bit of welcome color to the dish.  My husband wasn't as on board though, not sure why, but said he would eat it again. The only thing I didn't care for and have removed from the recipe below is 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.  I do like spice, but felt it over powered the subtle flavors.  And I found the 22-25 minutes a bit much, so reduced to 20-24 in the recipe below. The roasting time depends on your oven.


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Baked Goat Cheese and Pesto Reduced Carb Pasta
2 full meal servings, 4 side dish servings (might go further depending on serving size)

Ingredients - 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pints              Cherry or Grape tomatoes (I love multi-color heritage ones)
3                       Cloves garlic, sliced (might roast them whole next time and mash in the bowl)
1                       Shallot, sliced thin
2 T                    Fresh Oregano leaves, minced
3 T                    Olive oil
8 oz                   Goat cheese
4 oz                   Spaghetti broken in smaller lengths
1 med.               Carrot, peeled and spiralized
1 med.               Zucchini, peeled and spiralized
2 T                     Pesto
Optional:  6-8 fresh basil leaves for garnish  (I skipped this)

Note - a pint is one of the smaller containers that are around 284 grams, and is about 2 cups. So you need 4 cups to make 2 pints.  I just used 2 smaller containers. 

Directions -

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prep all the veggies. 

Add the tomatoes, garlic, shallot, and oregano to sheet pan (or 9x13 pan).  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss well to combine. Push these apart to make a well in the middle other ingredients. Place the goat cheese there and drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil. Bake until the tomatoes have blistered and the goat cheese has melted slightly, 20 - 24 minutes.

While the tomatoes and goat cheese bake, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Place the spiralized vegetables in a strainer in your sink.  When the pasta is done, reserve and set aside 1/2 cup of pasta water, then pour the pasta and boiling water over the veggies in the strainer to drain. Toss slightly. This will soften and warm your zoodles, but still leave them a bit crunchy.

Remove the tomatoes and goat cheese from the oven. Add the pesto and begin tossing everything together, breaking up the goat cheese as you go and adding a little pasta water (I added the whole 1/2 cup and it came out just right), until you have a creamy consistency. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Serve hot (optional garnished with the fresh basil).