Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Baked Cavatappi

on July 1, 2014

Image I think everyone loves a baked pasta dish. Maybe it’s because it brings us back to a childhood memory of a special event where everybody gathered together to celebrate something special. Whenever I mention “taste the love”, it really shows how much love someone put into making the dish. This recipe does show how much love goes into the making of this particular dish. Now because there are a few different parts to this recipe doesn’t mean it’s hard. You will see what I’m talking about as I move forward in showing this recipe. The great news is that this dish can be made in advance, or even frozen, when stored properly,to eat at a later time, but that’s another post. Moving forward, let’s start with the meat. I use a pound of lean ground sirloin, 1 pound ground pork, and a pound of sweet Italian sausage, that’s been removed from the casing. Image I start by adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of whole fennel seeds to a large saute pan, that’s been heating on med high heat. I add the meat and then break the meat up with the back of a wooden spoon.   pan. 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes. Image I let this cook until the meat has some great color on it then I remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, so as to get rid of any of the extra grease. I put all the cooked meat into a large bowl and set it aside until I’m ready for it. Image Image Alright, now I start the delicious tomato sauce for this dish. Here’s how I make this. I love to add roasted red peppers to my sauce. The peppers give a nice sweetness and another depth of flavor. I just take my favorite jar of roasted peppers and process them in a food processor. I also have a few other ingredients to add. Image Image I have 1 28 ounce can each of crushed and whole San Marzano tomatoes along with the ingredients above. For this recipe I used a red onion, because that’s what I had, but you could use any onion you like. I have 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, (I love the way rosemary works with the sweet Italian sausage), 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, the pureed roasted red peppers, 1/2 a cup of low sodium chicken broth, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and finally 1 teaspoon of black pepper. In a large heavy bottom pot I add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss in the diced onions. Image As the onions start to soften, I start adding the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, minced fresh garlic, oregano, rosemary, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Let all those flavoring cook with the onions for a few minutes while stirring everything together, then add the chicken broth and on a low simmer reduce that down until almost all the liquid is evaporated, then add both can of tomatoes. Image Are you feeling this now. The whole house is smelling like grandma’s house. I let this sauce simmer on low for around 23 minutes, so it start to reduce a bit then I add all the meat back in and let that cook together for another hour. A secret ingredient that I add at this point is maybe a teaspoon a freshly grated nutmeg to the sauce. Trust me here. Image Image For the last part of this dish is the pasta. Image You want to cook the pasta about 3 minutes under what the directions tell you to, because it will continue to cook in the oven. You don’t want overcooked pasta. I cooked off 1-1/2 boxed of Cavatappi for this dish. I Drained it really well and then add 1-8 ounce container of Mascarpone cheese,2 small containers of Ricotta cheese, 1 cup of freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and some finely chopped Italian parsley to the pasta. I mixed all this together until the cheeses were all incorporated throughout the pasta. I the added 2 ladles of sauce in with the pasta to keep it moist through the baking process. Image Image Alright, now all the parts are done, so let’s start layering this dish. First at the bottom the sauce. Image Then a layer of the pasta with some more Mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Then some more of that delicious meat sauce, and repeat. Image Image Now top the dish with some more Mozzarella and Parmigian-Reggiano and finally some finely chopped fresh Italian parsley. I dot the top of the dish with small pieces of unsalted butter to help the browning of the top, because the crunchy top has to be the bt est part, at least to me it is. Image Bake at 350 degrees covered for 40 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes. A little tip so the foil won’t stick to the cheese. Spray the under-side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray so it will release without taking your cheese with it. Image Image


2 responses to “Baked Cavatappi

  1. Ron Urquhart says:

    STOP! You are making me hungry!! I love that golden cheese top…pasta kinda chewy. It almost looks too good to eat….almost!

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