Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake

Every once in a while, I have a random leftover I have to use.  This recipe was made for that exact reason.  I bought fresh mozzarella for homemade pizza and some was leftover.  I was excited to find this recipe to use the fresh mozzarella, because it was easy and also a good make ahead recipe.

This serves 6-8.

Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake
adapted from Jamie

2 T olive oil
1 lg onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14.5) cans fire roasted diced or crushed tomatoes (or 1.5 kg fresh tomatoes, peeled if desired, and roughly chopped)
1 lg handful basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped.
1 T red wine vinegar
1 lb orecchiette (or other medium chunky pasta)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb (more or less) fresh mozzarella balls, sliced

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add tomatoes to the onion and garlic along with a 1/2 c of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender, process tomato mixture to make a smoother sauce.  Add the basil and red wine vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and 1/4 c Parmesan.  Spread a layer of pasta in a 9x13" baking pan.  Follow with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Repeat these layers three times, ending with a layer of mozzarella on top.

(At this point, you can refrigerate the dish until you are ready to eat.  Add some time to the baking time).

Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 15 minutes or until topping is golden, crisp and bubbling.

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