Monday, February 19, 2007

Baked Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella

I needed to work today, so I decided to stop by Food Lion for convenience to see if I could find everything I needed for baked pasta. Luckily, the grocery cat carried it all. What I like about tomato-based pasta dishes is that they are so versatile. I can use a variety of meats, spices, herbs, cheese, and types of tomatoes. It’s all good! The version for this evening follows…

Baked Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella

2/3 pound ground pork

Dried oregano

28 ounce can tomato puree (I try to find a brand that does not add spices to the tomatoes)

3-5 garlic cloves, chopped

Dried basil

¼ cup dry red wine (something you don’t mind drinking)

2 medium sweet onions, chopped (or 1 large sweet onion)

Olive oil



1 pound rigatoni, cooked to your preference

1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced

¼ cup Romano cheese, grated (no canned stuff, please)

Place about a teaspoon of olive oil in a pot that will hold the pasta sauce. Heat the oil under medium heat and put the ground pork in the pot and sprinkle liberally with dried oregano. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cook until just done. Pour in the tomato puree. Add garlic, red wine, and basil to taste. Stir occasionally. At the same time, in another pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onions until translucent and soft. Sprinkle onions with a little salt while cooking. When the onions are done, add them to the sauce and stir. Continue simmering the sauce until the pasta is cooked. Boil water with a little salt and cook the rigatoni. Drain the pasta and place in a baking dish. Add the sauce on top and stir. Place mozzarella on top of the pasta and sauce. Sprinkle with Romano. Baked uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

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