Pasta night is made for elections
At this time of year, there are nights when we can't be distracted from our televisions by the need to prepare a meal. Sports events are a major culprit here, but in my household another is election night. So what's a cook to do on nights like these? I recommend a pasta dish that is made ahead and only needs to be baked just before serving.
I like to make pasta casseroles that include vegetables and chicken or other meat, if possible.
• Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet to avoid dripping on the oven.
• Bake the pasta in a wide, shallow baking dish so there is more topping.
• This can be prepared 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 1⁄2 hour before baking. It might need a few more minutes to bake if it is cold.
• Bake the pasta uncovered so the top will brown.
• Divide this mixture into 2 smaller baking dishes and freeze one.
Election Night Pasta With Spicy Tomato and Sausage Sauce
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
3 medium-size cloves garlic, minced
2 jars (26 ounces each) favorite marinara sauce
6 tablespoons favorite homemade or store-bought basil pesto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Water, for boiling pasta
1 pound penne pasta
1⁄2 pound smoked Gouda or mozzarella, cut into small dices
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach leaves
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon as it cooks, for about 5 minutes or until no pinkness remains.
Add the onion and saute for another 5 minutes or until softened, mixing around to evenly cook the onion. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce and simmer on medium heat for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the pesto, salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Reserve.
Add salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add the pasta and cook over high heat until al dente. Drain well.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon over a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the remaining sauce, cubed smoked cheese, 1⁄3 cup parmesan cheese and spinach leaves, mixing well to combine. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on top of the pasta.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the casserole begins to bubble and the cheese is browned.
Serves 6 to 8.
Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 20 cookbooks, and also a James Beard award-winning radio-show host.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Roundup: Keurig strikes deal with Kraft on coffee brands; more
- Harrison’s 5 RBIs help Pirates pound Brewers
- Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
- Steelers notebook: Keisel always hoped to return
- Sandusky cover-up case unusually shrouded
- New-Ken Arnold will have new-look school security
- ‘Caring hands’ reach out to Manor woman with crippling disease
- Thousands of American steel jobs believed lost to import surge
- White House ricochets in nonprofits’ birth control coverage fray
- $6K in library books stolen
- Advocacy group requests investigation of Chrysler power system failures