I thought since we're in the colder season I would share a favorite comfort food we have almost weekly this time of year. We love our pasta over here (really who doesn't?) and we have some version of it almost once a week. Sometimes I make the spaghetti hot dish I shared previously - that was my MIL's special. But my kiddos don't care for ground hamburger on anything. So more often than not I do some kind of plain spaghetti and sauce or a pasta bake. I will occasionally make some separate baked meatballs or fry up some Italian sausage for me and my hubby to have with it.
I do many different versions of a pasta bake - like for example last night we had a ravioli bake. But a favorite with my kiddos is just a basic pasta bake.
When I do a pasta bake I boil up whatever kind of pasta I have on hand, but we usually like penne or bow tie. In this case I think I mixed both. I boil it until al dente as it's going in the oven to cook longer. Then I add either a jarred pasta sauce - or sometimes homemade (I like Pioneer Woman's recipe for sauce). But most of the time it's jarred for this busy mom. I also will sometimes add jarred alfredo sauce too.
I don't really follow a specific recipe when I put the bake together. I just toss the pasta with the sauce and put a layer of it in a pre-greased pan. I then will top it with alfredo (if I'm using it) and a layer of some shredded mozzarella. I then will add another layer of pasta and more mozzarella and some shredded parmesan on top. I cover it with foil and bake it at 375* for about 20 minutes. I then take off the foil and bake it for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is golden and melty. Good stuff on a cold night - especially if you've been in a cold ice rink watching hockey! ;)
For the garlic bread I will sometimes bake up a frozen loaf from the grocery store to save time. Or I will cook some whole garlic cloves in olive oil and brush the oil on some french bread with a topping of mozzarella and parmesan and bake it until golden and melty too.
And when I'm really feeling ambitious I will roast a whole head of garlic in the oven. Just take the garlic and peel off the outside papery layers. Then cut off the top of the bulbs so that you expose the top of all of them. Place it in a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil and rub it in all over. I often sprinkle a little salt and pepper over it too. Then wrap it up and place in 400* oven for about 30 mins. The garlic gets soft and sweet and perfectly spreadable to smear on top of toasted french bread slices. Or take your slices and spread on the garlic and a sprinkle of shredded cheese and bake a few minutes more and you have garlic cheese bread. Yum!! This is actually just wonderful as a party appetizer too! Just serve a dish of the roasted garlic with some toasted bread pieces on the side. Let people scoop and spread it on the toasts themselves.
And occasionally I'll have a glass of wine with my pasta. Always if I'm out for dinner having pasta in a restaurant! But most of the time at home I love a comforting glass of ice cold milk. Is that weird?? Add a side of caesar salad with my pasta and I'm one happy girl. Buon Appetito! xo