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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
A tale of two casseroles

I made two similar casseroles in two successive weeks - one being "semi-homemade" and one being *mine*.


There is no recipe. I took half a bag of uncooked bowtie noodles and mixed it with most of a jar of salt-free pasta sauce and a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, and dumped it all into a casserole dish. I added some water and a shot of balsamic vinegar and baked it at 350°F for about an hour.

It tasted okay. The noodles cooked thoroughly and the vinegar cut a bit of the over-sweetness of the sauce, but it was still very reminiscent of Chef Boy-ar-dee. It *was* fast, and it was reasonably low salt and fat, and I'd make it in an emergency. Also, it would probably be good kid food.

1/2 box penne rigati

1 8 oz can tomato paste
1 large spanish onion, large dice
1 large green pepper, large dice
Garlic, finely chopped
bay leaves
Black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

8 oz part-skim ricotta
8 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded (okay, packaged that way.)
Basil leaves

Sauté the vegetables in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and the spices. When garlic is cooked, add the can of paste and two cans of water, and a shot of vinegar. Let simmer. Taste (add salt).

Cook the penne about five minutes - it should not be servable. This just gets rid of extra starch.

Mix all ingredients together, removing bay leaves, and put in large casserole. Bake at 350°F until cheese is bubbly and pasta is cooked - or longer.

This took a bit more work, since I had to make the sauce and cook the pasta, but the result - a spicy, savory sauce with only the sweetness of the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar and nice big chunks of vegetables, no gumminess, properly cooked pasta and the ricotta cheese gave a nice body and balance to the whole. It did not taste, well, jarred.

I could have added mushrooms and/or wine to the sauce. I could have made it fleishig and left out the cheese, or added fake meat. I could have done as I do for lasagna and put in spinach. Infinite variations.

I might make the first again - emergencies happen, after all. I *will* make the second. Be really good for a yom tov lunch.


The second one sounds really great, sweetie. I can't wait to try it for mom, Lee and me. :)

Tell me how it comes out, please.

I've never thought of putting balsamic vinegar in tomato sauce (although I adore all vinegar and always have a minimum of five different kinds in the pantry)--I'll definitely have to try it! My default tomato sauce is from the original Moosewood Cookbook, which has honey and red wine in it, but otherwise similar ingredients to yours.