Thursday, May 24, 2007

Linds' Hot damn, that's a really good Penne Pasta Cassarole!

This is a massive layered pasta dish, with approximately 6 to 10 servings. Or my 2 regular servings and the rest for my boyfriend after a long day at work. He loves Loves *LOVES* this dish, and it's super easy to make.

I use a 5 by 9, 4 inch deep ceramic cassarole/lasagna dish to bake it in.

Ingredients required

1 bag of Penne Pasta
1 large white onion, diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, diced fine
1-2 pounds of lean ground beef (or ground turkey, or tofu, or whatever rings your bell)
1 to 2 pounds of shredded mozzarella
1 large container of either ricotta cheese or relatively dry cottage cheese
1 large can/jar of premade tomato based pasta sauce (any kind you prefer)
1 small can of tomato paste (I use garlic tomato paste)
various italian seasonings for the meat while browning.

optional ingredients

8 to 10 white mushrooms, sliced
1 large green and 1 large red pepper.


Preheat your oven to about 400 degrees.

Boil water with a teaspoon full of salt and add penne until it is al dente. Drain completely and take off of heat. It's okay if the pasta cools.

Sautee onions and garlic in a large deep sauce pan until onions start to get translucent. Add hamburger, browning until it is fully cooked, adding spices until you get it seasoned to your preference. This is where you would add the optional ingredients at this time, and let cook for approximately five minutes, on medium heat, until flavours start to mix.

I usually premix the canned pasta sauce and can of tomato paste, to make it easier to pour on top of the meat and ingredients in the sauce pan. Let meat sauce simmer on low heat for approximately 10 to 25 minutes.

As I mentioned before, this is a layered dish. Put a layer of penne on the bottom of the cassarole dish, until it's just under halfway full, and then spread the entire amount of ricotta/cottage cheese and half of the mozza on top of this pasta. Spoon half the amount of meat sauce onto the pasta.

Repeat the layer of pasta on top of this and then top the dish liberally with the remaining mozza. Place in the center of the oven, and let bake for at least 20 - 45 minutes, checking periodically to ensure that the cheese is not overbaked. It should be bubbling and the cheese should look nice and browned in places on the top, but not burnt!

This goes great with a salad, and though it's a bit high in calories and carbs, it's the best comfort food you can imagine when it's blah outside and you want some good ol' italian fare!