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This Greek Pasta Bake is creamy and flavorful, filled with feta cheese, calamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts. You can add chicken or keep it as is for a filling vegetarian meal.
Last week I had a fun and unique opportunity to attend a Community Preview Day for a new Smart & Final supermarket up in Fresno. Grocery shopping, of course, is my favorite kind of shopping, so I always have fun exploring new supermarkets. Fresno’s new Smart & Final wasn’t open to the public yet (it is now), but a few lucky community members got to go shopping at the shiny new store before anyone else. And I was one of them!
Smart & Final is kind of a unique store in that along with many regular sized products, they also carry large, warehouse-sized items without having to pay a club fee. They make shopping easy, less expensive and less daunting than shopping in a big warehouse store. They also have some great private label brands, which can help you save even more. Fresno’s new Smart & Final can be found at 2425 North Blackstone Avenue, Fresno, CA 93706.
I was super impressed with the new Smart & Final’s produce section. They had a ton of fresh fruits and veggies, all laid out beautifully. They even had a bunch of organic produce, which is right up my alley.
Another favorite feature of the store was the bulk bins. I love shopping at health food stores because of the bulk bins, but let’s face it– those places will drain your bank account. So I was really excited to see such a huge variety of bulk products (everything from nuts and snacks to grains and flours) at a more affordable grocery store. Here too, they also had a selection of organic products.
Too bad the meatatarian hubs wasn’t with me. Smart & Final has a SERIOUS meat selection. Just check out these huge cuts. It’s a meatlover’s heaven, and perfect for cooking for a crowd (or just one hungry husband who loves to have leftovers!).
Smart & Final also has a big wine & spirits section, a bakery section, every frozen item you could imagine, plus my favorite pretty little touch– gorgeous (and super affordable) fresh flowers! Basically every thing you need for easy, one-stop shopping.
I was interested to try some of Smart & Final’s private label brands, so I picked up a few La Romanella products. La Romanella is a Mediterranean line, and the products I picked up– roasted red peppers, calamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts– inspired a delicious Greek Pasta Bake. I also picked up some items from their First Street line– penne pasta, canned tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese. I was definitely impressed by the quality of the products. The artichokes were big and meaty, and the feta crumbles were huge and perfectly tangy.
The Greek Pasta Bake was inspired by this Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake that I blogged about ages ago (but made again recently and remembered how amazing it is). I swapped out the Mexican flavors for Greek ones. It worked great!! I kept the pasta bake vegetarian, but you could easily add some diced cooked chicken breast or even shredded rotisserie chicken to give it a little more heft.
The result was creamy, rich and so tasty. September is Family Meals Month, and though September is on it’s way out, this was definitely a perfect family meal to celebrate with. I love big bakes like this that feed a crowd!
- 1 lb First Street penne
- 1 cup diced La Romanella fire roasted red peppers
- 1 cup roughly chopped La Romanella marinated artichoke hearts
- ½ cup halved La Romanella calamata olives
- ¾ cup First Street crumbled feta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried bail
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 2½ cups First Street shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 (14 oz) can First Street diced tomatoes, undrained
- Cook penne to al dente according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add red pepper, artichoke hearts, olives and feta to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Preheat broiler.
- Heat butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add flour and cook, whisking continually until mixture turns the color of peanut butter, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully whisk in milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and basil, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Then stir in diced tomatoes with their juice.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir everything until evenly coated.
- Transfer pasta to an oven safe baking dish. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup mozzarella over top. Broil until top is just browned and bubbly.
- Serve immediately!
Some Smart & Final stores offer grocery delivery with Instacart. You can check to see if your store does, and get $5 off and free delivery with the promo code SMART5 by clicking here! And to stay up to date with all the latest Smart & Final happenings, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
I really enjoyed checking out a new grocery store and exploring their products. You can find a lot of other Smart & Final inspired recipes here! I’d love to hear your favorite!