Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Baked Pasta

You know how I feel about pasta, and consequently how Thomas feels....  However, I'm going to keep plugging away until I can find something we can compromise on.  I think I'm getting closer with this week's Crusty Tomato-Basil Rigatoni.  Okay, time out.  Crusty?  I think there's too much of a negative connotation to call something crusty, but I get it, there's a crust.  How about Basil Crusted Tomato Rigatoni?  Doesn't that sound more posh?  Posh?!  Just kidding...

Here's where I tweaked the recipe.  #1 - I added meat to my pasta sauce.  When I told Thomas that, he said, "Tweaked it?  I'd call that "fixed" it!"  True story.  We'd make sucky vegetarians.

Basically, I made my pasta and sauce the way I normally would.  I used a jar of Prego Chunky Garden sauce, a pound of ground beef (have I pushed the Mix n Chop yet?  Still love it!), my
whole wheat blend pasta, some garlic, Italian seasoning, etc, etc...
Here's where the recipe actually started working for me.  I tossed the sauce and pasta together (something I NEVER DO), and then put it in a Pyrex dish.  I figured this would give me the depth I needed to bake the pasta, and my stoneware really shouldn't be placed under the broiler, so better safe than sorry!  I bought an 8 ounce ball of "fresh" mozzarella and chopped it up.  (Hello to my 5" utility knife - super love it!)  I then spread that over the pasta as evenly as possible.  In retrospect, I probably should have tossed some shredded cheese in the pasta as well, but the point is like a cow's opinion: it's moo.  (Is it bad that I still quote Joey?)

Here's my favorite part - making the pasta crusty!  I used some Parmesan sourdough bread, about two cups, coated in butter, and spread it out before throwing the Pyrex into the oven.  This is more bread than the recipe calls for, but I adore a good crust.  (Hmm.  I'm very love-ing this blog today.  Sorry for all the love, but it is a really good recipe!)  Pop that puppy in the broiler for about 5 minutes to toast the crust and melt the butter.  I turned the broiler off and left the dish in the oven for just another minute or two to make sure everything was completely melted without burning the bread.

Finally, top it off with some freshly cut basil.  Is it just me, or does fresh basil smell like being a child in the summer, playing outside?  I don't really connect the smell of basil with herbs, more with weeds, but it's always such a lovely addition!

Ahhhhhhmazing!  Bon Appetit!

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