CHEESY CREAMY TOMATOEY PASTA BAKE
The star of this pasta bake is the luscious tomato sauce, inspired by classic Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan. It's a simple 3-ingredient sauce made with San Marzano canned tomatoes and a generous portion of our Butter EVOO. There is melted, gooey mozzarella throughout but not a spec of ricotta. It tends to dry out so we've taken a tip from Daniel Gritzer at Serious Eats and substituted ricotta with a cheesy Parmesan cream sauce poured over the top of the casserole before serving. It's awesome.
450g penne or ziti pasta
2 to 3 cups simple tomato sauce (eg. Hazan's)
2 tbsp EVOO (extra to grease baking dish)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced low-moisture mozzarella cheese (in small chunks)
1 cup diced fresh mozzarella
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375°. Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Cook pasta according to the package until barely al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta, tomato sauce, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and half of the fresh mozzarella. Add pasta water as needed to keep the mixture moist.
Place the pasta mixture in the baking dish and press into an even layer. Spread the remaining mozzarella over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove foil, increase oven to 450° and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
While the pasta is baking make the parmesan cream. In a saucepan, place whipping cream. Gently simmer, stirring frequently and reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Add Parmesan, gradually and whisk until completely blended and smooth. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
Before serving, pour Parmesan cream over the pasta bake, letting it drip into nooks and crannies. Spoon onto plates or pasta bowls. Drizzle with EVOO.
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