Pasta is my most favorite food. When I get asked the question about the one food I’d bring with me to a deserted island, as we all do from time to time, I have a hard time because my first thought is to take pasta. But then I’d need a pot and some sort of portable heater, and sauce, and if not sauce, butter and Parmesan cheese, and maybe a bottle of red wine, and then, well, you see how answering this question can be difficult. So I usually choose chocolate. Anyway….
Pasta can be cooked in so many lovely ways, with so many delectable ingredients. And I love to do just that, and often. And then there are those days when you have nothing in the house, no time, you’re very hungry, it’s nearly dinner time, and did I mention you’re very hungry? That’s when this pasta bake is perfect. It’s so simple. Takes seconds to toss it together and when it’s in the oven I ignore it and empty the dishwasher and set the table and make a quick salad or heat up a frozen veggie and voila! Dinner.
For myself I like my pasta bake as is. Pasta. Sauce. Cheese. A variation of the culinary holy trinity! Okay, maybe not. But still my favorite way to eat it. My husband and eldest son like this with meat. Sometimes that’s ground beef, sometimes sausage, and sometimes pepperoni (actually, that one comes in a close second for my favorite).
Last night I was only cooking for myself and my husband, and he wanted sausage in his while I didn’t. So instead of fighting about it or making only one dish of this pasta bake, I used two ramekins that are about 5-inch in diameter. Perfect for individual sized pasta bakes!
The original recipe was found on the back of a box of Barilla pasta, ages ago.
Here is the recipe for the family size pasta bake. See the notes below for how to make this in ramekins.
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
water (enough to fill the pasta sauce jar)
basil and oregano
1 16-ounce box dried pasta
2 cups cooked meat of your choice (hamburger or sausage) or pepperoni, if desired
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 400F.
In a casserole dish stir together the pasta sauce, water, basil, oregano, and dried pasta. Add the meat, if desired. Cover.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven; uncover and stir.
Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and distribute the mozzarella cheese on top. Finish it with a pinch more oregano.
Return to over (uncovered) for about 10 minutes.
*Note: When making the individual ones in ramekins, I use about 1/4 cup pasta with 1/2 cup sauce with equal amount water. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake as listed above.
*Also: The shape of pasta doesn’t matter. I’ve used ziti, penne, gemelli, campanelle, cavatappi, elbows, rigatoni … yup, I love pasta! … and sometimes spaghetti broken into 1-inch pieces. Depending on the size of your baking dish (or dishes), you may not want to use the whole box of pasta in this recipe. Use your judgement as to how much fits well into your casserole dish, and adjust the sauce and water accordingly.