August 7, 2013 MMM Foodies
Gringo Pasta Bake
Ready to serve!
(Note: originally published Aug. 7, 2013) I had a taste of a creamy pink sauce with mushrooms enveloping some rigatoni pasta last night from a local Italian restaurant. I thought to myself, “This would be good as a baked pasta with some Southwest flavors!” This sent me on a trip through the refrigerator and pantry to see what I had for ingredients. The following recipe is what I came up with. I used one of my last yellow squashes of the year. Oh and don’t be afraid to open that little can of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce for 1 teaspoon! You put this stuff in a little plastic storage container in the fridge and it lasts a couple of months…no, really, it does!
I learned a little through the process of putting together this recipe, like non-stick was a good way to go for the sauce. I lost track of time and the liquids boiled and it could have been a real mess to clean up! The vinegar is added to help break down the proteins in the dairy ingredients, so they won’t clump. (Lemon juice would accomplish the same.) The biggest clean-up issue I encountered was getting the melted cheese off of the wire whip (whisk). If you like it spicy, throw in a well-chopped chipotle from the can you open and use 2 jalapenos…maybe a pinch of cayenne. This batch wasn’t too spicy. It was delicious, but pretty tame. You can always increase the veggies, just make sure your casserole dish will hold it all.
I made a back-up batch of Ragu pasta sauce and hamburger for the kids, just in case this experiment failed. Amazingly, both my kids served themselves up a plate and liked it! If you knew my kids, your jaw would be dropping right now, like mine did. It looks like Ragu for dinner tomorrow night. Give this one a try and enjoy!
1 lb box Penne Pasta, cooked al dente (will cook more in oven)
½ c. reserved pasta cooking liquid
½ cup Yellow Squash (when out of season, substitute butternut squash or similar), large dice
½ cup Sweet Onion such as Vidalia, large dice
1 Jalapeno Pepper, chopped fine, seeds and membranes removed (Wear gloves or thoroughly wash hands after!)
1 teaspoon Adobo Sauce (from canned Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce)
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
Start the sauce off the heat
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cups Shredded Cheese such as Cheddar, Colby Jack or Mexican Blend, divided
½ cup Sour Cream (or Crema)
1 cup Half ’n ’Half
1 cup Vegetable Stock
2 cloves Garlic, minced or run through garlic press
½ teaspoon Dried Oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1 tablespoon Oil for sautéing vegetables
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Preheat a sauté pan on medium heat. In a cold saucepan (preferably a good non-stick), add half ‘n ‘half, reserved pasta water, vegetable stock and sour cream. Whisk to combine and slowly heat to a low simmer. Be careful not to boil or scorch! Add tomato paste and adobo sauce. In the sauté pan, add the onions and squash and sauté for about a minute to heat, but not cooked through. Add garlic and jalapeno and sauté another 30 seconds. (Be careful not to breath in the steam coming off of the saute pan once you add the jalapenos!)
Remove the saucepan from heat and add the apple cider vinegar, oregano and 1 cup of the shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sauce, vegetables and penne pasta.
Transfer mixture to an ovenproof casserole dish (a large one!) and cover tightly with foil. (Lightly spray the foil with non-stick spray on the side that will contact the casserole.) Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed the excess liquid and the sauce is thickened.
Remove the casserole from the oven to a heatproof surface and top with the remaining cheese.
Yummy goodness from the oven!
Bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cool for a few minutes to allow the dish to setup and cool off enough to eat. Enjoy!
Spoon it up!