Lately I've been on a culinary kick. Every Monday morning I pick out 4-5 recipes to take on for dinner and usually 1 dessert. My husband is lovin the fact that there is a home cooked meal waiting for him when he gets home and not to mention the fabo lunch I make him every day to take to work. Trying new recipes is always trial by error. I baked a blueberry cake last week and although it was edible it didn't look that great. I make a kick butt banana bread but other than that I'm not a great baker. My niche, for right now, is taking an existing recipe & tweaking it for my own taste or with whatever I have in the cupboard.
The five star standouts for this month have been scallops w/ creamed corn & bacon, chicken pot pie, thai inspired skirt steak, and an INSANE pasta pie I made last night. Wow. This monstrosity was soo good and very, very filling (picture unbuttoning your pants and laying comatose on the couch for a good hour). I took this wonderful recipe from a fellow blogger Noble Pig. I tweaked some of the ingredients, added some herbs to the sauce portion and followed her instructions on how to assemble the pie. It came out exactly the way it should have. Jason and I stared at this 'thing' last night for a good 5 minutes as it cooled off. It is definitely large enough to feed up to 6 people. See how it came out below!
Pasta Pie- Taken from the NoblePig.com and tweaked a bit.
1 pound rigatoni- I used De Cecco Pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef OR Turkey meat
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 shallot minced (make sure it's minced)
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
1 Bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 can (28 ounces) good quality crushed tomatoes- I use San Marzano
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Butter, for pan
8 ounces grated mozzarella
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 SPRINGFORM Pan
Boil a large pot of water with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook pasta until slightly underdone- take off burner 2 to 3 before cooking time. Noble Pig took the pasta off around 12 minutes. The pot needs to be big enough and the water needs to be at least 6 quarts of water so the pasta doesn't stick together. When done, rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 Tablespoon olive oil to coat. Set aside.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and begin to break up the pieces so they are very small. When the beef is browned add garlic, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes more. Add crushed tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes. Add basil and simmer for another 4 minutes.
Now this is important!
Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese and make sure each piece of pasta is covered. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and begin to pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end.
Spread meat sauce on top of pasta and start to push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up.I did this with the end of my wooden spoon. Don't use all of the sauce, set 1-2 cups aside.
It could have been that I have a faulty springform pan but the pan started leaking a little from the juice of the sauce so I took it out and placed it on a cooking sheet.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold.
Cut into wedges and serve with any remaining meat sauce you might have. Serve with a little garlic bread and voila!
Again, check out her site for step by step pictures!
Here's how mine came out...hungry?