Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | June 1, 2011

Perfect Comfort Food: Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Parmesan

This recipe fits the bill for comfort food. It’s easy to prepare, delicious, economical, and can be adjusted to feed any sized crowd. Not only can you double it, but if you prefer, you may reduce it by half.   Plus, it’s one of those “go-to” recipes, where you can keep the ingredients on hand, always ready for some spur of the moment entertaining.  And if you’re inviting friends, have  one friend bring a salad, another bring a loaf of garlic bread, and you’re good to go.

Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Parmesan

1 pound of uncooked pasta (penne, shells, rigatoni – -any pasta works) – For a healthier slant, I use whole wheat pasta, whole grain pasta or Barilla Plus pasta, but be aware that unlike white flour pastas, these pastas are not typically full pound boxes.

1/2 cup olive oil
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
In the summertime, feel free to substitute fresh tomatoes, cored and sliced.
Kosher or Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano is ideal, though it can be pricey, so any parmesan will suffice)
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Place uncooked pasta in a 9 by 12 baking dish and coat the pasta well with olive oil. Allow the pasta to stand for at least 20 minutes. Often I cover it with the oil hours ahead of schedule.

Later, add the tomatoes, and salt and pepper, and mix well. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally (every 15 minutes or so) to be certain the pasta remains well covered with the sauce and to avoid sticking. Cook until the pasta is tender, approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in the cheese and serve immediately. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for a real kick. This recipe serves 4 people as a main dish. It also makes a nice accompaniment to chicken. And, the leftovers are terrific, even cold packed in a lunchbox the following day.

I’m predicting this will become a family favorite. Whenever we make it, it’s a huge hit! (now I’m getting hungry)

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

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