Friday, March 5, 2010

Spicy Pasta Bake

Ok, so I’m in a pasta mood. It must be from all the carbs I was eating in Peru. Since I’m trying to steer clear of as much gluten as possible, I’ve found that the brown rice pastas at Trader Joe’s are an excellent alternative to the starchy goodness of semolina or whole wheat noodles. And they bake well, too.

My amazing farmer’s market is an excellent resource for a lot of the ingredients here, so if I can get there, I’m going to use all I can from them. The cheeses, sausage and vegetables (depending on the season) are best when fresh and local.

2 cups rotini pasta (I use the brown rice version available at Trader Joe’s)
3 links Italian turkey sausage cut into small pieces (but if I have fresh sausage from my farmer’s market, you know I’m gonna use it)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano, divided in half
1 8-oz container ricotta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese, divided in half
1 15 oz can organic diced tomatoes
½ cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
1 tsp chili flakes
2 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray medium-sized casserole dish with olive oil spray.

Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.

In bowl, blend all cheeses, reserving ¼ cup parmesan cheese for topping. Add pasta and ½ tsp of oregano. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat oil and add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Add pinch of salt to sweat vegetables. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add sausage, remaining oregano and chili flakes. Cook until sausage is 75% cooked, about another 5-8 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.

Combine sausage mixture with pasta mixture. Pour into casserole dish and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes. Top should be slightly browned and bubbly.

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