Monday, April 5, 2010

Italian Stuff

For some strange reason, I had a lot of time to cook while I was in college. Some of my favorite recipes come from the time that I used to cook for my room mates and my...uh... boyfriends. (shhhhh...don't mention this to my husband) This recipe came from that time in my life. I always just called it "Italian Stuff", and I've never officially named it. Anyone have a good idea for a real name?

Baked pasta has a tendency to be dry, so don't be afraid if it looks a bit saucy. In my opinion, it needs more than one jar of sauce, so you can use a jar and a half of sauce, or add some tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce.

1 lb Mostaccoli, Rigatoni or Penne noodles
1 lb Italian Sausage, bulk or removed from casings (I always use pork sausage)
36 oz Spaghetti Sauce (or a 24 oz jar plus 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce and 1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning)
2 cloves Garlic
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small Yellow Squash, thinly sliced
8 oz Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 medium Tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion and sausage together in a large frying pan until brown. Drain sausage if needed. Add spaghetti (and tomato sauce plus Italian seasoning if using) to the sausage mixture. Simmer on low for 5 minutes to let flavors come together. Boil noodles according to package directions. I usually cook the noodles for the minimum time on the package because they're going to be baked, and you don't want soggy noodles! Combine cooked noodles, sauce, and 1 1/2 cups grated cheese. Spoon mixture into an 11x15 pan or deep casserole dish and bake, covered, for 20 minutes, or until it's a little brown around the edges.

Add 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a frying pan and add 2 cloves of minced or pressed garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add squash and mushrooms and cook, just until softened.

Remove pasta from oven and cover with remaining cheese, sauteed veggies, and sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Return the pan back to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Serve hot with garlic bread and a green salad!

Oh, by the way...this makes probably about 10 servings. It's pretty large, so feel free to freeze half of it, but I would freeze it without the veggies on top because I can imagine that they would get pretty soggy. Enjoy!

(the yellow squash didn't look great, so this time, I used 2 zucchinis)