Monday, November 14, 2011

' no sides necessary' pasta

Well hello, friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed MORE gorgeous weather! Thank you, Lord! Jordan and I had a few great coffee dates consisting of drooling over the new Pottery Barn Christmas issue magazine and, well, coffee! Yesterday, she presented me with a GORGEOUS little gift of ALL the new PB candles that I was dying over! I'll have to photograph those and share, they're SO beautiful it's ridiculous. ANYWAYS, after ooh-ing and ah-ing over my gift, we decided we were hungry and didn't feel like going out. It needed to be a home-made meal and chick flick kinda night! (sorry Brent) ;) We both immediately leaped at the idea of baked pasta, it was a chilly evening after all, so that's what we made! And OH MY GOODNESS was it DELICIOUS! So our not so exact, quick, throw-together baked pasta is what I'm going to share with you today and TRUST me, you will LOVE IT should you try it. Also I'll be honest, when we were tasting this heavenly pile of cheese for the first time, I turned to her and I said, "it needs just a little something....?" We proceeded to say at the same time, "vodka." SO, there's the 'awesome as is' version, and then there's the 'maybe slightly better' version, where I would add 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of vodka to the red sauce before mixing with the white sauce. Now let's continue!

What you'll need: (keep in mind, this was meant to be quick and easy because we were ready to EAT, you'll have to forgive the use of bought pasta sauce, sorry James)

  • 1 box rigatoni pasta (you may not use the entire box, but you might, depending on your baking dish)
  • 1 jar your fave marinara
  • 2 bags mozzarella or italian blend cheese (we used both, the italian blend has romano, parmesan, etc..)
  • 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 4-7 fresh basil leaves, depending on the leaf size, if they're large, use 4.
  • 2 tablespoons manzanilla olives (spanish olives with pimientos)

For the white sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream (yes, heavy cream, you know it's gonna be awesome)
  • 2 cups milk (if you only have milk and no heavy cream, no problem, just use 3 cups milk)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves freshly minced garlic
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons pesto (again, we just used store bought, it was great)
  • handful of either cheese for thickening
  • salt and pepper to taste

I'm gonna whip through this so you can see how fast each step really is!

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Boil water for you noodles.
  • Start the white sauce- heat the butter and garlic in bottom of pan, add the flour one Tablespoon at a time, stir until it starts to thicken and bubble. Add the milk and cream and stir constantly. Throw in the handful of cheese, keep stirring, add the pesto, salt and pepper, and stir more. White sauce done!

  • Cook the noodles- al dente! firm! no overcooking your noodles friends, they're already going to get a little mushier when they bake so I don't recommend cooking over 9 minutes!
  • Meanwhile, pour your marinara in a bowl so you can add some goodies to it, chop those olives in half, throw them in, and break apart the basil leaves, add those in. Stir. Done with your red sauce! (this would be the time to add in your vodka if you choose to)

  • Now, drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of your baking dish, and pepper it. Pour a little red sauce on the bottom, add a layer of cheese, noodles, white sauce, spinach leaves, cheese, red sauce, white sauce, noodles, spinach, cheese, etc etc etc....


  • Any extra sauce you have, use it. Just pour it all over and fill in the holes. Top the dish with a little more cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it's pretty bubbly and some of the noodles are looking a bit brown on the edge. Then switch to broil on low for about 5 more minutes. DONE!

(really right now?)
Crack open a good bottle of wine and enjoy! This was LITERALLY the perfect, cozy up, watch a movie, make your insides warm, fall meal and it was SO easy and so fast. Also, vegetarians...! Something you can eat! I know you've all been asking for some vegetarian recipes, and I promise I have more! It's just been so nice to make roasts and such for this season but really, more vegetarian friendly recipes to follow shortly! :)
(yeah, we made ginger cookies- recipe coming soon...)

I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did.... Brent wanted to call it "Italasagnyum Pasta".... I suppose it's a combination of italian, lasagna, and yum. Hahaha! Sorry Brent, I went with "No Sides Necessary" instead. :) Easier to say. James, I wish you were here to enjoy this!

Love you guys... enjoy! xo

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