It is also something we eat semi-regularly during Lent, perfect for those meatless Fridays. It’s not much harder or time consuming than the pasta & pasta sauce I so enjoyed in college. In the time it takes the pasta to cook you mix up a spicy, creamy tomato sauce, stir it all together, add some cheese chunks (another thing I love about this recipe – no cheese to shred), and bake for a tiny bit of time. Supper is ready in about 30 minutes, most of that hands off time. Which is my favorite kind of supper, to be honest.
Can we also talk about this vintage Pyrex casserole dish. My Mom had a variety of these forever and this one ended up in one of our garage sales, maybe because the lid broke years ago. I scooped that right up and it’s one of my favorite things in the kitchen. And not just because it’s blue, although it might largely be that too. We’ve long established that I like almost anything (food excluded) in blue. It’s so just super adorable and the perfect size for so many dishes. I use it all the time.
Next time to need to carbo-load for a race or avoid meat for whatever reason or just enjoy some really satisfying and delicious pasta – this would serve all of those well.
Cheesy Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
yield: about 6 servings
-12 ounces uncooked pasta
-1 TB butter
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 TB tomato paste
-½ tsp red pepper flakes
-¾ tsp kosher salt
-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
~10 ounces mozzarella, cubed*
-½ cup heavy cream
*We buy cheese in 8 ounce blocks so I typically use a whole one of those and a little bit of whatever other cheese we have open in the fridge.
1) Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes shorter than recommended on the box. Drain.
2) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt, cooking just until fragrant, about one minute. Pour in both cans of tomatoes and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat the medium-low and simmer until the sauce is reduced by almost half and thickens, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream. Remove from heat.
3) In a casserole dish, stir together the cooked pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Let sit a few minutes before serving.
Source: modified from Annie's Eats