Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pasta Pie

Or, as I like to think of it, creamy saucy cheesy noodly deliciousness in a dish.  Good thing I wasn't in charge of naming it. 


I'm on the verge of needing a cookbook intervention...my collection is currently packing 4 shelves.  I like to imagine that an intervention is how some of my favorite cookbooks ended up on thrift store shelves and made their way into my home.  The one this recipe comes from, aptly named Pasta, is a huge dictionary-sized volume with a note in the front cover; it was originally a gift.  It reads:
May you enjoy this book to create many wonderful moments together.  As you create your own special traditions together, may they be joyous and memorable.  I hope the ingredients in your life are always fresh, delicious, and savored with love.  Buon Appetito!!
I'll take up that call. The book contains 350!! pasta recipes for all types of homemade and dried pastas and I've enjoyed reading about how different shapes and textures of pastas pair with different sauces.  My husband and I enjoy making homemade pasta when we have the time, but for most occasions, dried pasta and homemade sauce more than suffices.  During the summer months my husband grows tomatoes, garlic, and herbs in the garden, and dries enough basil to keep me supplied all year long.  It's special to be able to crumble some between my palms into dishes like this, appreciating garden aromas in the middle of winter. 

I don't know that this is the most "authentic" Italian dish in the book, probably not by a long shot.  But I was attracted to it for it's unusual use of a white sauce, poured over the top of pasta mixed with a chunky tomato sauce.  The result was a creamy dish that my husband, who usually doesn't care much for baked penne and the like because it tends to be dry, just loved.  And of course there came no argument from the 4 year old...any kind of pasta and cheese together and she is all about it. 



Pasta Pie


Ingredients:
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz.) chopped Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. dried conchiglie or rigatoni 
  • 2 T. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 T. dried breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

For the white sauce:
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4. c AP flour
  • 2 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skilled and cook the onion over gentle heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until softened.  Stir in the tomatoes.  Fill the empty can with water and add it to the tomato mixture with the paste, herbs, and sugar.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil, stirring.  Cover the pan and lower the head and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  4. Cook the pasta according the the directions on the package.
  5. Meanwhile, make the white sauce.  Melt the butter, add the flour, and stir for one minute.  Add the milk a little at a time, whisking after each addition.  Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring, until sauce is smooth and thick.  Season, then remove the pan from the heat.  
  6. Drain the pasta and turn it into a baking dish.  Taste the tomato sauce and add salt and pepper as desired.  Pour the sauce into the dish and stir well to mix with pasta.
  7. Beat the egg into the white sauce, then pour over the pasta mixture, using a fork to separate the pasta so the white sauce fills in gaps.
  8. Level the surface, sprinkle with Parmesan (I also threw on a handful of mozzarella because we love cheese) and breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Let stand 5-10 minutes, and serve.
The recipe says that chunks of roasted vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant make a nice addition to the sauce OR, for meat eaters, Bolognese sauce can be used in place of the tomato sauce.

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2 comments:

Shauna K said...

my mouth is watering!! looks and sounds {reads?} so good! hehe... bookmarking this ;)

roz said...

what a beautiful pasta dish! My kind of comfort food! I also LOVE those lemon madeleines on the previous post of yours . . . a must-bake in my future! Thank you for your kind comment last week. Now following and hope you can follow back if you like.