Monday, April 13, 2009

Hearty Baked Pasta

I have had this magazine article stored away since college and have gone back to it again and again, especially when I want to impress guests. Basically there is no set recipe, you just pick a few things from each list, throw it all together and hope for the best. Just for the record I have never made one that didn't taste delicious, so go for it and get creative! It's great because you can use whatever you have on hand. The directions are really wordy, but it comes together in about 45-60 minutes from start to finish.
To make this dish dairy free, use the all tomato base and don't add any cheese. If you just have one child with allergies, use a mini loaf pan to dish their own separate pasta without cheese, then go ahead and add the cheese for the rest of the family. I also do this with lasagna and layer my sons with noodles, meat and sauce into the mini loaf pan and make the family one with cottage cheese and mozzarella.

Hearty Baked Pasta
Recipe by Tony Rosenfeld

1. Get ready to cook. Preheat oven to 450 F. Put a large pot with 6 quarts of water and 2 Tbsp kosher salt on to boil. Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Gather all your ingredients and read directions through so you can multi task!
2. Brown the flavor bases one at a time. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a 6-8 Quart pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add one of the flavor bases (see list below) and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost cooked through and nicely browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. If you are using one flavor base, proceed to step 3. If you are using a second one, transfer the first to a bowl with a slotted spoon, add another Tbsp olive oil and brown the second flavor base as above.
Flavor Bases: Choose up to two, for a total of 1 pound:
  • Mushrooms: cut into 1/4 inch slices (I use white button, but any kind will work)
  • Sausage: removed from its casing and crumbled or broken into 3/4 inch pieces (I use sweet Italian, but hot is fine)
  • Chicken: boneless, skinless thighs or breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • Yellow onion: halved and thinly sliced
3. Stir in 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, push the contents of the pot to the side. If the pan is dry, add 1 Tbsp oil, and then the garlic and cook until it starts to sizzle and becomes fragrant, about 10 seconds.
4. Add the liquid and simmer. If you've set aside any browned flavor bases, return them to the pan. Add the liquid (choose one from the list below), plus 1 tsp kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the sauce thickens slightly.
Liquids: Choose one
  • Tomatoes: two 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained of 1 cup of their combined juices and then pureed in a blender or food processor.
  • Tomatoes and cream: two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained of 1 cup their combined juices and then pureed in a blender or food processor, plus 1/2 cup heavy cream.
  • Broth and cream: 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth plus 1 cup heavy cream.
5. Stir in the sauce enhancers. Add two or three ingredients from the list below and cook until they're heated through and their flavors have melted, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.
Sauce Enhancers: Choose 2 or three
  • Sherry or balsamic vinegar: 2 Tablespoons
  • Olives: 1/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes: 1/4 cup drained and thinly sliced
  • Red chile flakes: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
  • One coarsely chopped fresh herb, such as: basil (1/4 cup), flat leaf parsley (1/4 cup), rosemary (1 Tablespoon) or thyme leaves (1 Tablespoon)
6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water until it's just tender to the tooth, about 10 minutes. Note: Cook the pasta a little less than you normally might because it will cook more in the oven.
Pastas: Use 1 pound dried
  • Campanelle
  • Farfalle
  • Fusilli
  • Gemelli
  • Orecchiette
  • Penne rigate
  • Rigatoni
  • Ziti
7. Add the pasta and vegetables to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with your choice of vegetables below.
Vegetables: choose up to two, 8 ounces each
  • Baby spinach
  • Frozen peas
  • Cauliflower: steamed or boiled until barely tender (1 1/2 inch florets)
  • Asparagus: steamed or boiled until barely tender (1 inch pieces)
  • Broccoli: steamed or boiled until barely tender (1 1/2 inch florets)
8. Add half of the cheese. Add 6 ounces of the cheese (see list below) to the pasta mixture and toss well. Transfer to the baking dish and spread evenly.
Cheese: Choose two or three and combine for a total of 12 ounces shredded or crumbled
  • Fontina
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano, freshly and finely grated
  • Gruyere
  • Gorgonzola (use no more than 4 ounces)
9. Top and Bake. Top the pasta with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown about 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Note: You can also top with breadcrumbs before baking. 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko


Jessica said...

I am confused. I thought these recipes were suppose to be dairy free? But this recipe calls for cream and cheese.

Nicole said...

All the recipes on this blog are dairy free, but since everyone's allergies are different and some can have cheese- I usually put cheese options on there (and usually say optional). At the top of this specific recipe it says,
"To make this dish dairy free, use the all tomato base and don't add any cheese."
On this specific recipe there are 3 options for liquid so technically I guess I should just delete the other 2 so there are no confusions, sorry about that.

Julie said...

Awesome! I cook for people with all different food allergies so I totally "get" the above steps. Leaves room for creativity and creating a dish from scratch based on what you have on hand.

Anonymous said...

I used coconut cream instead of ream cream to keep it dairy free and now this meal is a new family favourite.