Three x Three Pasta Bake

We always end up with odds and ends of cheese, pasta, tomato sauce, etc.  I hate to throw things away, so recipes that use up odds and ends of open jars and packets are ideal.  This is a simple take on baked ziti.  The three different preparations of tomatoes add depth of flavor.  The cheeses add a creamy compliment to the tomato and pasta.

You can put this together a day or two before (just work through step 4).

Serves 4

1/2 lb. gluten-free pasta (or regular pasta)

1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 gloves of garlic, diced

Dash of red chili flakes

2 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, diced

3 T sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 bottle of pasta sauce

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup Mozzarella

1/4 cup pepperoni (optional)

Sweat out the onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes with the balsamic.

Sweat out the onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes with the balsamic.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Cook the pasta according to the pasta directions.  Cook for two minutes less than directed (you want it a little al dente because it is going to cook more when you bake it).  Add the spinach to the boiled water in the last minute of cooking to wilt down.  Drain and rinse under cold water.

This is the sauce after the balsamic has reduced, before the tomato sauce is added.

This is the sauce after the balsamic has reduced, before the tomato sauce is added.

2. Using the same pan you cooked the pasta in (who wants to do more dishes), heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion and chili flakes.  Sweat for a few minutes, and then add the sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.  Add balsamic and cook for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.

3. If you are using the pepperoni, add and cook 2 minutes more.  Add tomato sauce.  Stir.  Add pasta and spinach/arugula.  Cook together a minute or two more.

The sauce before adding the pasta.

The sauce before adding the pasta.

4. Oil a small baking dish.  Pour in half the pasta.  Dot with ricotta.  Pour over the rest of the pasta.  Top with Parmesan and mozzarella.

5. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.  Turn on broiler and heat 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

I like to serve this with a light salad of greens with cucumbers and toasted pine nuts with a little lemon juice and olive oil for dressing.

Layer the pasta and cheeses before baking.

Layer the pasta and cheeses before baking.

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