Cheesy Baked Pasta
It was winter break and Sunday is one of the few nights our family of five all eats together. I was inspired by one of Sara Moulton’s recipes in our local paper, but added my own twist. This Cheesy Baked Prosciutto Pasta was born! In Sara’s recipe, the dried penne was soaked in water then baked with a good deal of liquid. I went back to the old fashioned method and boiled my pasta, then tossed it with the rest of the ingredients before baking it up in a casserole dish. Gooey with cheese and flavored with basil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and salty prosciutto, this was one splendid mac and cheese!
Nick, who’s favorite phrase is “I’m always hungry,” loaded, and I mean really loaded his plate up with this pasta. I was hoping there’d be enough left for the rest of the family. Thank goodness there was. Bill balked a bit at my generous hand with the minced garlic so I’ve cut it back a bit to appease his delicate sensibilities. With a cup of cream and loads of cheese, this definitely qualifies as comfort food, so put this one on your menu when the next arctic plunge, polar vortex or deep freeze hits your hometown. Or when you need a hearty, stick to your bones dinner.
- 1 pound penne, cooked al dente in well salted water, and drained
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 scant teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 3 ounces Prosciutto, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Pour into prepared dish. With a spatula, gently press down on pasta to level it out . Cover with foil.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve hot.