Friday, May 21, 2010

Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Baked Pasta

Cooking Rocks! by Rachel Ray has become our bible. And tonight's sermon was titled Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Baked Pasta. It was a simple dish with great flavor. Audrey loved mixing all of the ingredients and helping to shred the cheese. Some day soon she will be able to make shredded cheese all on her own and I will begin the slow process of turning over dinner to her.

  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 3 large cloves garlic, skins on
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup store-bought basil pesto sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water. Add pasta and cook for a minute or two less than package directions. preheat a big, deep skillet or a medium saucepan over medium heat. Place garlic on a cutting board and place the flat of your knife on top of each clove. Carefully whack with the palm of your hand to separate the cloves from the skins. Throw out the skins and chop up the garlic. Add oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and chopped onion to the oil. 

Cook, stirring a lot, until the onions are mushy and look cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the onions and stir. When the tomatoes come to a bubble, reduce the heat under the sauce to low. Stir in basil pieces to wilt them. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Preheat the broiler to high and place a rack in the center of the oven. Drain pasta shells. Add them to a casserole dish. Add pesto sauce, ricotta cheese, and a handful of parmesan. Stir carefully and coat the hot pasta with the pesto and cheeses. Pour hot tomato and bail sauce over the pasta, as much as you like. You can always serve a little extra at the table. Scatter the mozzarella cheese over the pasta. Add a final sprinkle of parmesan as well. Place casserole under the broiler in the middle of the oven, 10 to 12 inches from the heat. Let the cheese melt and bubble on top, 3 to 5 minutes.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Grate cheese
  2. Tear basil
  3. Mix pasta
  4. Add cheese
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cook pasta
  3. Make tomato sauce
  4. Place in oven
This dinner relied a lot more on mom than our usual dishes. It made the cut because it is pasta and cheese. Audrey loves them both. I was also able to sneak in a little green item and she ate it. Next time a little spinach is going into the tomato mixture. I would cook the pasta to al dente on the package as I went a minute under that and it was a little too undercooked for me. 

I also plan to cut the amount of onion as we are not big fans in this house (which is actually not ours at the moment, see the pictures). To this dinner add any salad and you have a meal. Rachel includes a homemade dressing but I did not enjoy it so I am not passing it on. If you want to know it, buy the book. Just buy the book anyway. Even though it was written for children, the recipes are really good. We are going to try some soup in a mug recipes soon.


Stirring the pasta.
Adding cheese.
Yummy dinner!



1 comment:

  1. What a cutie helping you cook! hehe This recipe looks so good! I love RR.... been meaning to buy more of her cook books. I only have one now and use it all the time!

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