Monday, February 23, 2009

Pasta With Seven Cheeses

It seems like I've been posting a lot of recipes lately. I guess that wasn't my original intention for this blog, but cooking certainly is a big part of my mom duties, so I have decided to try to limit myself to one recipe a week unless something huge happens like I invent a new way to temper chocolate or something groundbreaking like that. That said, today I'm posting a recipe.

Wild Child at Naked Opinions posed a frugal friend challenge a few weeks back and I promised I would participate, but honestly I haven't found anything really great that I want to put my name on as simple, fast, and inexpensive. So I am submitting my old trusty pasta with seven cheeses bake. I have no idea the cost per serving, but I usually have most of the ingredients in my house. I will say that I have eaten a similar dish at a super yummy Italian restaurant that was a hefty $18.00 a plate. This whole meal was probably less than that with plenty of leftovers.

I discovered this recipe several years back while watching The Barefoot Contessa on the food network. I changed it up a bit and now feel comfortable calling it my own. This is a great one to make the day before and pop in the oven after work. I have used Rigatoni, but this weekend I made it with medium shells instead and I must say that the shells worked very well because they trap in the sauce and the cheese so it is a little easier for the little ones to eat.

Now for the recipe:
1 box of pasta rigatoni, mezza-rigatoni, shells, whatever is in the pantry.
1 pound of Italian sausage or ground beef spiced up with a little red pepper flakes and garlic
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
handful of capers (little green things that looks like peas but taste like olives)
fresh mushrooms, sliced
fresh basil, torn and some for the top
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup mix of Italian shredded cheeses (yeah I cheated, I usually grate my own but for this recipe I buy the shredded Sargento 6 cheese Italian)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced. Save a few slices for the top.
salt (very little is needed with all of the cheese) and pepper

Brown the meat and cook the pasta to slightly al dente because it will be going in the oven. Once the pasta and meat are cooked and drained dump everything into a big bowl and mix until well Incorporated. Spoon into a baking dish and top with slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered, then remove the cover for 10 more minutes until the top is golden. Add more baking time if cooking from frozen or out of the fridge. This makes a huge batch so I usually make one big one and a small one to put in the freezer for a night when hubby's home alone with the kids. I serve this with a steamed vegetable and some warmed bread.

before baking
after baking
If any of you have a great family friendly meal you would like to share head on over to Wild Child's blog.


Such Lovely Freckles said...

Well, thanks, dear, for making me hungry two hours after breakfast... Oh, wait... three hours after breakfast. Technically we could eat lunch in an hour. Fact is, I'm hungry NOW!!

Aliceson said...

Yesterday we ate lunch at 10:30AM. The girls were hungry and I didn't bother to look at the time until hubby asked what the heck I was doing.

Out in Them Sticks said...

This looks so good. You really put me to shame. I just love all the fresh ingredients you use. Yumm!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like something my husband would love...unfortunately I'm not a fan of cheese! Wouldn't it be nice if I would make it for him anyway? Ahhh, darn it, I'm just not that nice! lol. Maybe for his birthday.

Aliceson said...

M, Fresh ingredients really make the difference and aren't as expensive as everyone claims.

Melody, you don't like cheese? I can tell you aren't a Wisconsin girl.

Shady Lady said...

Oh Aliceson! This looks awesome...and I can make it with gluten free rice pasta. Very cool!! Thanks for sharing. I just love your recipes!

sheila said...

Damn that looks awesome! Doesn't compare to the toast in the toaster. Thanks alot for making me hungry. lol

Sidhe said...

Yummmmy, it sounds like the taste of lasagna w/o the trouble of layers.

I'm totally making this...before the end of the week (I'll let you know how it goes).