Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More Tomatoes: Pasta Bake

Okay, so after I gave a big speech about my tomato conversion, I have another confession to make. I hate oregano.

This presents a problem when making the following dish, a recipe from Giada, with a quarter cup of oregano. As any good cook would do (I assume), I just left it out and relied on the fresh tomatoes from my dad's garden to shine through.

But as any great cook would do (I would know), I took it a step further. I added cheese.

This is a great baked pasta dish, with plenty of fresh tomato flavor. It's quick and easy, too. Julia and I enjoyed it immensely.

Pasta a la Formiana
Serves 4

Butter, for greasing dish
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound (8 ounces) mezze penne or other small pasta
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 very ripe, extra-large or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
Using a food processor (or your potato masher, as I did), combine the garlic and crushed tomatoes. Pour into a medium bowl and add the uncooked pasta, 1/3 cup olive oil, half the cheese, salt, and pepper. Toss until all the ingredients are coated.
Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with tomato slices. Pour the pasta mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Arrange the remaining tomato slices in an overlapping layer on top of the pasta mixture, making sure the mixture is completely covered. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the tomatoes are slightly crispy and the pasta is cooked, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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