Baked Pasta (a la Mom)
First, isn’t the new backsplash beautiful? I love the glass tiles…they brighten up the kitchen and tie the cabinets and granite counters together quite nicely.
In addition to doing this while I was in Colombia, Joel also made himself dinner (blue cheese stuffed chicken) and documented it! Not bad for a man who used to be terrified of the kitchen and subsisted primarily on cereal, salsa and hummus. Teach a man to fish…
Anyway, we haven’t gone grocery shopping since I got back and my challenge has been to cook with what we have in the house. The new loaf pans I got from eBay reminded me of the baked pastas my mom and aunt used to make for us as kids. Their version incorporated white elbow macaroni, ground beef, tomato sauce, black olives and government cheese (large blocks of American cheese that I miss dearly).
We always have whole wheat pasta in the pantry and batches of frozen pasta sauce for those days when you just don’t have time to cook. My frozen pasta sauce always includes sauteed garlic, shallots, onions & mushrooms, several cans of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, ground turkey & sausage, sliced turkey or chicken sausage, and other random stuff. I freeze it flat in ziploc bags and defrost as needed.
For this batch, I boiled whole wheat rotini pasta (measured by filling a little over half of each dish I planned to bake the pasta in) until it was al dente. While that was boiling, I defrosted the pasta sauce and threw in some kalamata olives I found in the fridge. Once those were both ready, I tossed the pasta and tomato sauce with some random cheese we had. I baked two separate dishes and each had their own mix of cheese.
The dish above had mozzarella and blue cheese inside and was topped with white American cheese. The dish below had Italian and blue cheese inside and was topped with the remaining Italian. I covered both dishes with tin foil and baked them for about 30-40 minutes (didn’t really time it…just took it out when it smelled really good and I was hungry) at 400F (last 5-10 minutes without the tin foil).