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When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pasta Pie....

Pasta, in any shape or form, typically generates rave reviews from my in-house food critics. When I saw this recipe from Noble Pig, I suspected I was headed for a standing ovation at the dinner table. I wasn't the kind of Mom who made my kids eat what was served; I have a pathological fear of hungry, sad children (food is love, right??) There were many meals where Ted and I ate something fantastic and the kids ate buttered noodles or spicy chicken (chicken breasts sautéed with Montreal Steak seasoning). Fast forward ten years and we all eat something fantastic or at least more interesting than buttered noodles. This pasta pie was a nod to those days of short order cooking for my little ones and wondering if they would ever eat anything other than pasta and chicken.

I bought a tubular pasta called paccheri and figured I could substitute it for the rigatoni. Not the best idea, paccheri is floppy and did not want to stand up and be stuffed without quite a bit of management on my part. Next time, I am using rigatoni. Carmelina tomatoes are the way to go for marinara—they have a beautiful thick purée and make the best sauce. I'm a firm believer in homemade marinara— it tastes better, is easy to throw together and it is less expensive.

I had a few doubts after I assembled the pie, those floppy paccheri pasta noodles bore a striking resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. My fears weren't completely unfounded, it held its shape (kind of) but definitely was leaning and spilling out of the spring form after I unmolded it. It tasted great, is easy to put together, aside from the fussiness factor of assembling the noodles in the pan, and definitely will have a place in our dinner rotation.

Marinara Sauce

2 28 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes 1 red onion, chopped 2 red or yellow peppers, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, chopped 8 - 10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped 8 - 10 leaves of fresh oregano, chopped 1 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp coarse pepper 1 tsp sugar 3 tbsp olive oil

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until tender,  about 10 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add peppers; sauté until peppers just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add sugar, basil and oregano. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until  slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.