So, what staples do you have in pantry? Beans, pasta, root vegetables, some dairy, meat in the freezer, cans of tomatoes? Need some ideas for all that? I can help.
Last night we made chili, which we will have again tonight with baked sweet potatoes. Tomorrow’s lunch will be chili dogs. Here’s my chili recipe.
Today, let me share the most basic of recipes, Baked Pasta. Super easy. And a local favorite. With Steve and I eating low carb stuff lately, I haven’t made this dish in ages. With a house of boys, it seemed like a good time to return to a classic.
Baked Pasta, Jersey Style
- 1 box of Pasta (acceptable shapes penne, medium shells, ziti, cellentani)
- 1 or 2 eggs, depending on size. This is just to bind everything together
- 1 jar of sauce (pay more for better)
- 1 large brick of Polly-O mozzarella
- 1/2 plus two spoons of the medium container of Polly-O ricotta
- 3/4 of a bag of spinach
- parmesan cheese
- Preheat over to 350 degrees.
- Prepare the guts. Chop the mozzarella into small squares. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Chop up the fresh spinach. Mix together the mozzarella, ricotta (remember don’t use the whole container), half a cup of parmesan cheese, lots of fresh pepper, 1 egg, and spinach.
- Prepare the pasta in salted water. Cook until very al dente. Like still a little white in the middle. Drain. Do not rinse pasta. Add about half the jar of sauce to your pasta. I used some generic Whole Foods sauce for this. There is some much better stuff on the shelf these days, as well as homemade, of course, but I don’t think that’s necessary for a baked dish like this. All the effort should go into bringing good stuff together.
4. Now you’re ready to build. Add a glug of the sauce to the bottom of a baking pan. Then add 1/3 of the semi-cooked pasta. Then add half of the cheese combo, then 1/3 of the semi-cooked pasta, 1/2 of the cheese guts, last of the semi-cooked pasta on top.
5. On top of the pasta layers, pour out the rest of the sauce and spread it around with a spoon. Add the last of the mozzarella, more parmesan cheese, and freshly chopped parsley. Cover everything with aluminum foil.
6. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until the cheese is bubbling all the way through and the pasta is entirely cooked. By this time, the spinach will be cooked, too. If you like your pasta dish slightly crispy, take off the aluminum foil ten minutes before it’s finished.
There are plenty of ways to upgrade this dish and make it more interesting. You can make a white sauce or add different kinds of meat and vegetables.