My Recipe Box

Viva Italia Baked Pasta

By taibreamh, member

Posted: January 12th, 2013

A hearty baked pasta casserole can be customized with your choice of meats, cheeses, sauces, and vegetables. Created Using: Baked Pasta
more about:

Kosher salt
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
16 oz. yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup pitted, coarsely chopped olives (preferably Kalamata)
1/4 cup drained, thinly sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 lb. dried penne rigate pasta
8 oz. baby spinach
8 oz. asparagus, steamed or boiled until barely tender, then cut into 1-inch lengths
6 oz. freshly grated Pamigiano-Reggiano
6 oz. shredded Fontina

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put a large pot with 6 quarts water and 2 Tbs. kosher salt on to boil. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, about 1 minute, add the onions and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost cooked through and nicely browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, push the contents of the Dutch oven to the side. If the pan is dry, add 1 Tbs. olive oil, and then the garlic, and cook until it just starts to sizzle and becomes fragrant, about 10 seconds.

Add the chicken broth and heavy cream plus 1 tsp. kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the rosemary, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until they're heated through and their flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water until it's just tender to the tooth, about 10 minutes. (Cook the pasta a little less than you normally might, because it will cook more in the oven later.)

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the baby spinach and asparagus.

Add half each of the Pamigiano-Reggiano and Fontina to the pasta mixture and toss well. Transfer to the baking dish and spread evenly.

Top the pasta with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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