As much as I am absolutely yearning for warmer weather, I do enjoy making (and eating!) comfort food! I don’t know what my body is going to do when I start making lighter meals again…
This is a kid-friendly and pot luck-friendly main dish casserole which would be a great alternative to a Baked Ziti or macaroni and cheese. It could easily be doctored up for a more adventurous palate by adding onions, mushrooms, greens… you get the idea. We did all enjoy it as is with a green salad. It’s simple, cheesy, crispy, and tasty. This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food; I altered the seasonings and used whole wheat spaghetti.
Yield: 6 servings
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes (I used Cento San Marzano tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
- 2 cups packed basil leaves (from 1 bunch), torn if large
- 3/4 pound (12 oz) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees (on convection).
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
- In a food processor, pulse tomatoes until coarsely chopped.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook at a rapid simmer until sauce thickens, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta 5 minutes (it will still be crunchy). Drain pasta and return to pot.
- Add tomato sauce, basil, and half the mozzarella to the pasta and toss to combine.
- Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is golden and edges are bubbling, about 25 minutes.
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