Showing posts with label pasta bake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta bake. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three Cheese Gnocchi Bake with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

It's been a while since I posted a first course recipe just because I haven't really made anything that special lately. Last night though I decided to try something new incorporating some of my favorite ingredients and I'm happy to note that the dish was a success! I love pasta bakes because they are quick and easy to prepare and you can make them ahead of time. Here is another recipe I posted if you like them as much as I do. With pasta bakes, you can mix and match certain ingredients you already have and almost all of the time it turns out pretty amazing. 

I've used gnocchi for pasta bakes before but usually with just mozzarella and tomato sauce. That is my sweetie's favorite dish but this time I wanted to make it cheesier and also add mushrooms which I love in pretty much everything. I used store bought gnocchi just because I was crunched on time but if you know how to make your own, this dish will turn out even better for you I'm certain!

For this recipe (that could easily feed four) I used:

 - 500gr package of gnocchi
 - 340 gr of plain tomato sauce
 - 250 gr of ricotta cheese
 - 200 gr of sliced champignon mushrooms
 - one small white onion
 - freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
 - 250 gr of mozzarella cheese
 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
 - salt and pepper to taste
 - tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
 - 1/4 a cup of dry white wine

The first step is to saute the onion and olive oil in a pan.

Add the mushrooms and once they have shrunk down simmer with wine. 

 Once the wine has evaporated add the tomato sauce and stir everything well cooking on low heat for about 10 minutes. 

Once the 10 minutes have passed you can add the ricotta cheese breaking it up with a spoon and stir well. Add the salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat. 

Now bring to a boil a pot of water adding about a tablespoon of salt to the water and add the gnocchi. You will see the gnocchi sink to the bottom as soon as you add them to the pot but after about a minute or two they will float to the top. This is when you should remove them from the water or else they will get too mushy. 

Now in a baking dish coat the bottom with some of the sauce you have prepared and cover with a layer of gnocchi. 

Cover the gnocchi with another layer of sauce and add the mozzarella and shredded Parmesan cheese. 

Repeat the steps adding one more layer of gnocchi, sauce and cheeses and then add the chopped parsley for color. 

Bake uncovered in a preheated oven at 200° C for about 20 - 25 minutes. In this last step all you really want to do is melt the cheese and brown the top a bit to give it that nice golden top. 

This was just an out of this world comfort meal!

Hope you enjoy the recipe :-)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Easy Pasta Bake Recipe

Well, it's back to cooking for me. I took a little break from the kitchen this past weekend to work on beautifying my home :-). Breaks are necessary from time to time because they give you a chance to recharge your batteries and allow you to plan better for next week's meals. I find that taking breaks motivates me more and makes me less irritable towards the people I love...(i.e., Honey it would be wise of you to take me out to dinner every once in a while.).

Pasta bakes are very easy and it's my go to dish whenever I need to make something:

1) Fast & easy

2) Ahead of time (you can make it in advance and keep it warm in the oven or even freeze it and heat it up before serving)

3) Satisfying and delicious (depending on the ingredients you chose to use, you can make it lighter for the healthy eaters or more filling for the hearty eaters).

So last night I ended up using the ingredients I already had on hand. Basically all you really need to have for any baked pasta dish is sauce, short pasta of any type and mozzarella cheese. These are pretty much the basic ingredients. Obviously this will make for a pretty plain pasta bake but it will be delicious just as well.

By the way did you know there are officially 350 different types of pasta from around the world?? Isn't that amazing?


Anyways, back to my pasta bake... these are the ingredients I used:

 - Casarecce type pasta about 2 cups (again any short cut pasta is fine).
 - 2 cups of plain tomato sauce
 - 1 cup of water
 - basil leaf
 - 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
 - 1/2 cup of light cooking cream
 - 1/4 cup of diced speck (Italian smoked ham)
 - 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

The first thing you want to do is warm up the tomato sauce and add the herbs and spices that most appeal to you. I love a spicy sauce but my other half not so much so all I added was a couple basil leaves. Also remember to bring to a boil another pot of salt water where you will be cooking the pasta.

Add 1 cup of water to the sauce in order to dilute it a bit so that the pasta will be able to cook nicely all the way through.

I then added the smoked ham which made for a more hearty sauce. I let everything cook on medium heat stirring often.

In the mean time I boiled the pasta for half of its actual cooking time. Do not let it cook for any longer than that or else it will end up too soft during the bake. Pre heat the oven to 200°c

Prep your casserole dish by covering the bottom with a ladle of your sauce. Also have on hand the mozzarella diced up or shredded.

Add about half of the pasta

I then added the mozzarella, cream and some parmesan as the first layer.

Now start the second layer. Add more sauce to the top and repeat the previous steps.

Top the casserole with a last layer of sauce and a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes at 200°c or until you see the top start to brown.

Yes I know, I cooked it a little too long...I got distracted watching the Bachelor :-) But I can assure you we ate every last bite!