Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baked Tomato Sauce Pasta - Sausta!

After making my crazy delicious home-made ketchup, I had a pile of the "sludge" that was left over from straining the chunkier bits out. My ketchup/sauce tasted too good to just throw this paste out, but I needed something to do with it where it wouldn't need to be as watery as sauce. Maybe if I baked it with noodles somehow...

I took my quantities and cooking times from this recipe, but I mostly made it up as I went along!

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Serves 3-4
2 c tomato sauce
8 oz uncooked noodles (spiral or those tube-y penne ones work best. Or house and gingerbread-man shaped. Natch!)
8 oz (1 package) low-moisture mozzarella, grated (or some combination of fancy cheeses, like Fontina, Parmesan, Ricotta, etc. If using multiple cheeses, feel free to add more than 8 ounces total. Up to 12 ounces should be fine.)
Salt, pepper to taste
Butter, oil, or cooking spray
Optional: cherry or Roma tomatoes, cut into halves or eighths.

Preheat oven to 400 F (You can do this roughly halfway through Step 1 if you prefer.)
Step 1: Cook pasta in lightly salted water according to package directions, stopping and draining a few minutes early, until the noodles are almost al dente. (Whenever you plan on baking noodles, you'll want them a bit firmer than when you plan to add sauce and eat them right away.) Drain noodles.

Step 2: In a large bowl (or in the baking dish, if you're careful,) combine and stir the pasta and tomato sauce.  Add in up to half of the cheese(s) and fold in until evenly distributed. *Transfer to a greased 1 1/2 QT shallow baking dish, and top with fresh cut tomatoes (if using.)

Top with the remaining cheese(s.)

*If using Ricotta, you can instead add only half of the noodle mixture to the pan, then sploop on half of the Ricotta, top with the other half of the noodles, and bloop on the rest of the Ricotta.

Step 3: Bake at 400 F for around 20-25 minutes, until cheese is beginning to brown on top and bubble around the edges.

The Verdict
Big hit! Unka Seesee, Hubby, and I all loved it. Z hates anything I make that isn't hot dogs or mac-n-cheese "fwum a BOX!" So her vote doesn't count. Definitely needed more cheese though! I had only added one 8-ounce package of low-moisture mozzarella, and was too lazy to grate the other package.

Since my "sauce" was so thick, I also added in a can of tomato paste to help spread it out. I had wanted to add tomato soup instead, to add moisture too, but apparently we were out. If you're using canned or home-made tomato sauce, you should be fine. It's just because I was not only using sauce reduced to a paste to make ketchup, but also because this was the leftover sludge that was too thick to squeeze through a strainer! Tasty, tasty sludge!
I must have made too many noodles, since the sauce seemed pretty sparse. Or maybe I'm just so used to spaghetti.

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