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Monday, February 9, 2015

Baked Penne Pomodoro

I have made many baked zitis in my's a crowd pleaser...It's certainly a Jim pleaser...but NOT an Adrienne pleaser - a bowl full of three different things she will eat completely separate, not only touching each other, but actually melted into each other and completely inseparably is her worst nightmare - she gets a side of plain pasta.)  This baked ziti is by far my best work.  Meals like this make me wonder why we ever go out to eat.

Bon Appetit (I love you, Bon Appetit)  reminded me recently of how great it is to add some butter and pasta water to a tomato sauce.  It's not the first time I have heard of it and used the idea.  Deb Perelman also makes a tomato sauce with butter.  It gives the sauce some more depth and softens the acidity of the tomato sauce a bit.  It totally works.  It may be just the thing that made this baked pasta so incredible.

Baked Penne Pomodoro
serves 6 (if you make a big salad on the side and are able to show some restraint)

1 14 oz. box of pasta, cooked 3 minutes shy of being al dente, 1/2 cup of pasta water reserved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper, to taste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 or 4 large basil leaves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
salt to taste
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup part skim shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about ten minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the crushed red pepper and can of crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add the basil leaves and simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and remove the basil leaves.  Add the butter and reserved pasta water and stir until combined.  Add the undercooked pasta to the pot of sauce and combine along with the grated cheese.  Now taste and add salt if necessary.  Pour the pasta mixture into a lightly greased baking dish.  Dollop the ricotta by heaping tablspoons over the top of the pasta.  Then using a spoon, gently mix the ricotta into the pasta so that some big pockets of ricotta remain throughout the dish.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.  Place in the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately (preferably with a nice red wine and some crusty Italian bread.)

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  2. Amanda,
    Made this Wednesday night - delicious!! Thanks!

    1. I just saw this, Aleta! I'm so glad you liked it :)

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