Sometimes you just need pasta, yesterday was one of those days. Baked pastas are always a crowd-pleaser, relatively easy to make, and taste amazing. If you’ve never tried your hand at one, now is the time. It’s a very simple concept: noodles, sauce, and cheese. How you go about those three ingredients is what separates the good from the extraordinary. For this particular dish I used rotini, mainly because I happened to have in the pantry. You could easily do this with ziti, penne, or any other similar style of pasta. The important thing is to make a sauce that you’re proud of, and the rest of the dish will follow. This will serve at least 6.
16oz Rotini Pasta
8oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Cubanelle Pepper (or bell pepper), diced
1 Large Tomato, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
16oz Tomato Sauce, plain or Spanish style
1/4 Cup Red Wine, not too dry
1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Dash Nutmeg, ground
2 Tsp Italian Herb Blend (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage)
1 Tsp Agave Nectar (or ~Tbsp Sugar)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil (med-low heat), add garlic, stir until fragrant, add onions, stir for 2 minutes, add peppers and tomatoes, allow to cook for about 5 min. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet brown the ground beef (~5min), drain off excess fat, and add beef to the sauce pan. Add tomato sauce, seasonings, wine, and agave nectar, allow to simmer while cooking the pasta in a separate pot. When the pasta is al dente (~7-8 min), drain and put into a large casserole dish, cover with sauce, top with cheese, and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven @450F. Enjoy.