I love it when a plan comes together. Or, more appropriately in this instance, I love it when a meal comes together. Especially when I walked into the kitchen at 5:00 with no idea what was going to be dinner. Not one piece of meat defrosted. Not a clue in sight. Nothing. Nada, Zip. What I did have, however, were ingredients. Ingredients that were waiting in freezer and pantry for their rightful place on the dinner table. I’d say they found it.
8 oz Penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 cup frozen (or fresh) chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 whole clove)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream (change it up and use prepared alfredo sauce, pesto, heavy cream)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or mozzarella; just about any cheese you like)
Prepare noodles according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown beef with onion, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add tomato sauce, water, and sour cream. Stir to combine and allow sauce to bubble.
Drain pasta and return to pan, add meat and sauce mixture. Stir together. When completely mixed, add to a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. Serve with warm French bread and salad.
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 30 minutes
*Original Serves4 Recipe
I have an almost irrational obsession with baked ziti. And I can pinpoint exactly where it comes from. It was, I’d say, wow, about 10 years ago. My wonderful Hubs (who was not my Hubs yet) invited a coworker to go to dinner with us. We went to Pasta Pomodoro in Rockridge (amazing outside seating with equally amazing heaters). I very clearly remember ordering the very rich and creamy baked ziti. When the waiter brought our food and said, “baked ziti?” I watched in dumb-founded amazement as Hector said, “Yes, right here.” Right here?!?? “No, RIGHT HERE!!!” I silently screamed. I don’t even remember the non-baked ziti dish I ended up with that night. How could I? It wasn’t baked ziti. Ever since that fateful evening I have been on a baked ziti quest. Each variation of a recipe that I try gets put in the “never again” pile, the “hmm, give it one more try” pile, or THIS could be the ONE” pile. I made this ahead for our Tahoe trip. My dad loved it, which is a whole other story, but got it added to the THIS could be the ONE pile. 🙂
16 oz dry ziti pasta
1 small / medium onion chopped (depends on preference)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub turkey or chicken)
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce (such as Classico Tomato & Basil)
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbs grated Parmesan
Add ziti to slightly salted boiling water. You want to cook to al dente because this dish will go in the oven.
Over medium – high heat, in a large skillet, sweat onions until soft, add ground beef. Once browned, add pasta sauce and simmer 15 minutes.
While simmering sauce, preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray. Layer 1/2 of the ziti, provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Total time: 1 hour
*Derived from AllRecipes.com
Who does not like ravioli? And who doesn’t like lasagna? Also, though, who doesn’t like or have all the time it takes to make lasagna? I’m a total cheater when it comes to the rav, so I won’t even go there. That being said, I love ravioli, little pillows puffed with ricotta and maybe a meat, or even just the ricotta and some spices. They are, really, a blank canvas. You can add a sauce making them as rich and decadent as you’d like. Or, you can add a sauce bursting with fresh flavor from the garden. Filling you up, but not leaving you heavy. Pretty much the same idea goes for lasagna. There are so many amazing, and completely opposite ends of the spectrum options. But, what if you took ravioli and made it into a kind of quasi lasagna? Oh my, now you’re talking!
*For this dish, the recipe called for a 26-28 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce. Being typical of a cook that wants to use what is available to me, I used the 1/2 jar of 24 oz Barilla Organic Olive Oil, Basil, and Garlic pasta sauce and 1/2 of the jar of the 15 oz Barilla Alfredo Sauce already opened in the refrigerator both from a past lazy night of wanting something especially quick. With both of these leftover jars I’d say I used 28 oz., total.
I also loved this recipe for all of the options. While I used just cheese ravioli, I could have easily used chicken or sausage rav. I could have also added sliced, fresh mushrooms; I could have even added frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain. Or, how about pepperoni. Maybe some Italian sausage crumbles? So many options! Oh, Oh, Oh! You could also go with a Tex Mex theme. Simply sub the pasta sauce for a jarred salsa (such as Old El Paso), add corn and change the cheese to cheddar or a Mexican blend. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Hmmm, it JUST got interesting!
There is also the most wonderful make-ahead option. Simply layer the ingredients in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 ours. Then bake as directed. So this dish COULD be made on a week night! I LOVE that option.
Ingredients (as I made it):
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (any variety)
1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 pkg (25 – 28 oz) cheese filled ravioli
3 cups shredded mozzarella (low moisture used)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350°. Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread ¾ cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange the ravioli in a single layer over sauce; top with mozzarella cheese. Next layer, spread ¾ cup Alfredo sauce over ravioli, top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. On the final layer, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes (if using frozen ravioli, bake 40 minutes). Remove foil; bake uncovered 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with warm bread and Daniela’s Caesar salad.
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Total time: 1:10
*Derived from Betty Crocker
You know how a craving starts out as something that just sounds good, quickly moves into an itch you can’t seem to scratch, and then makes its way to a tick causing your eye to twitch or walk with a limp? Even though it’s still warm here in Cali, I just had to prepare some comfort food. I had been really craving it lately and the craving was moving into the tick phase. As soon as I saw this recipe in my binder, I knew it would put that tick to rest and my eye would finally stop twitching. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The only thing I’ll do different next time is add some fresh basil. By the time the pasta came out of the oven the kids were starving and begging to eat, asking, “Oh Mommy, what is that smell? It smells SO good in here. Can we eat right now? I can’t wait any more!” I completely forgot to run outside and snip some basil. This dish could easily be made vegetarian by subbing the meat for mushrooms, mushrooms and Japanese eggplant, mushrooms and artichoke hearts. So many veggie options! PS – Yum! Reheat for lunch is just as good as dinner!
8 oz uncooked penne (or any tube-shaped pasta)
1 lb lean ground sirloin
1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
5 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (recipe called for fat-free, I used 2%)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
7 oz Neufchâtel cream cheese
3/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting fat and salt. Drain.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove beef from pan; drain. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Add oil to pan; swirling to coat. Add onion; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beef; sprinkle with salt. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in milk, tomatoes, and Neufchâtel, stirring until smooth; bring to a simmer. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in pasta.
Preheat broiler. Coat a 13×9 inch broiler-safe baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon pasta mixture into dish, sprinkle with parmesan or mozzarella. Broil 4 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.
Serves 6 large helpings
Hands on time: 17 minutes; Total time: 40 minutes
*Derived from Cooking Light
- Pasta alla Norma (eatingappalachia.com)
- Pasta Pasta Pasta (gohawker15.wordpress.com)
- Pasta e Fagioli (survivingthefoodallergyapocalypse.wordpress.com)