Four Cheese Baked Penne
Even though I love to bake I do like the inaccuracy of cooking b/c you don’t have to be that precise with the ingredients to create a tasty dish. I think its quite obvious that there is alot of red in my recipe write up this time. I made a few changes but I admit that many of them are my inability to read a recipe correctly too. Ooops. LOL.
I do not like cooked carrots (only raw carrots please…). I think its a texture thing for me so I left those out. I am also not a huge fan of nutmeg in non-desserts so I reduced the amount on that one too. Oh… and I was so sure that I had penne in my pantry but I guess I missed it during my last grocery excursion so I had to substitute with farfalle. No biggie. Pasta is pasta is pasta right?
Click image to enlarge
(Recipe from Coconut&Lime | photos from me!)
12 oz short tubular pasta like penne or ziti (I used 8oz farfalle)
For the sauce–
3/4 lb ground beef (I used 1 lb)
32 oz can tomatoes in puree, chopped*
1 onion, chopped (I used 1/2 of a large onion)
1 carrot, chopped (I omitted)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
pepper and salt to taste
* Rachel’s tip: I just stick a long knife into the center of the tomato can and slice towards the can to cut the tomatoes into manageable chunks. Much less messy than using a cutting board.
For the cheese mixture–
15 ounce ricotta cheese (I used fat free ricotta)
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I used 10 oz box)
4 oz grated Parmesan cheese (It was about 1-1/2 cups for me)
4 oz asiago cheese, grated (I used a 5oz block)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp)
mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cook pasta until almost al dente. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients of the cheese mixture. Set aside.
Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and
carrot, red pepper flakes and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. And the ground beef and sauté until almost cooked through. Drain off any rendered fat if needed. Mix in tomato paste, tomato chunks in puree and oregano. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, covered, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread a small amount of tomato sauce over bottom of the dish. Top with some pasta. Dot with cheese mixture. (I also sprinkled a layer of mozzarella cheese too instead of just on top.) Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, about 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook about 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese on top. Allow to sit a few minutes before serving.
Husband rating: A
He liked it but wants me to make it with penne next time since he prefers that pasta instead of farfalle.
Wifey rating: A
I really liked the combination of all 4 cheeses but I think maybe next time I’ll try some ground italian sausage instead of beef.
Other rating: A-/B+
My little brother liked the cheese and pasta combo but he said it was too much onion. Dang! everyone’s a critic! haha