01 December 2009

Penne Pasta Casserole

PENNE PASTA CASSEROLE

1 26oz can spaghetti sauce (Hunt’s, etc.)
1/2 med. yellow onion
1 tbsp e.v. olive oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 box dry penne or other pasta
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar
1/3 lb ground beef or italian sausage
salt, pepper, sugar — negligible


Get a pot of salted water going. Over low heat in a large skillet, add some olive oil, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sweat / simmer that until translucent (you can keep adding some water to prevent it from drying out). Remove to a plate. Add the ground beef and/or italian sausage (casing removed) and brown that. Drain it, return to pan with onion mixture. Add spaghetti sauce, and cook on low stirring occasionally for about 10-15 min. Add chopped basil (and any other herbs or veggies at this point). You may want to alter the flavor with salt, pepper and sugar depending on your spaghetti sauce.

When water boils, add the penne and UNDERCOOK it. How much depends on you and your oven. I just know you don’t need to cook it all the way because it’s going in the oven. When done to your liking, drain pasta and rinse it in cold water, if you like. I know they say not to rinse it, but because it’s a casserole I feel the noodles benefit a bit from a dunk.

Combine spaghetti sauce mixture and noodles together in the pot. In a shallow baking dish (flatter, shallower allows for more cheese browning area - if you like that.) Top with cheese, bake at 350F for about 30-45 minutes. You might want to cover lightly with aluminum foil until the last 10 minutes. You can also blast it in the broiler if you like the top extra crunchy.

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