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Stopping in Italy for Baked Pasta with Tomatoes

This week is Italian! Yum! Most pasta dishes are very easy to make and vegan friendly. Tomato sauce is really yummy and also good for you. Tomatoes have tons of Vitamin A and C and are excellent to use for home-made skincare remedies to make your skin look healthy and glowing.

Tonight we made a recipe from Giada from the Food Network called Pasta alla Formiana. It is an extremely easy and relatively fast dish to make. You don’t even cook the pasta beforehand!

Our ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes (we like Cento Italian peeled tomatoes)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 3/4 pound (12 ounces) mezze penne or other small pasta
  • 1/6 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (and some to brush the baking dish)
  • 1/8 cup dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Mike’s additions:

  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby broccoli
  • 4 thin slices of eggplant

We’ve made this dish many times in the past – it’s such a great meal. By letting the sauce cook the dry pasta (instead of boiling it first), the sauce soaks into the pasta, full of delicious flavors.

Over time, we learned to use half of some of the originally listed ingredients, like the salt, oregano and olive oil, as the original recipe is very rich. Begin by preheating the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease an 8″ by 8″ glass baking dish (in our case we had a bigger baking dish, 9′ x 11 1/2″ so we used a little bit more pasta).

In a food processor, blend the crushed tomatoes and garlic. Pour into a medium bowl and add the uncooked pasta, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss until all the ingredients are coated.

Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with tomato slices. Pour the pasta mixture into the pan and spread.

After many times of making this, there was a slight variation that Mike’s been wanting to try, so we made it on one side of our dish – we added chopped baby broccoli, slices of eggplant, and whole non-pitted kalamata olives.

Arrange the remaining tomato slices in an overlapping layer on top of the pasta mixture, making sure the mixture is completely covered – like a lasagna made from tomatoes instead of noodles. Drizzle the top layer of tomatoes with olive oil at the very end.

Bake uncovered until the tomatoes are slightly crispy and the pasta is cooked; the perfect time for us was 45min. It might be longer or shorter depending on your oven.

The dish is always great, and Mike’s additions turned out pretty good too. The boiling sauce cooked the veggies, although the eggplant wasn’t as tender as we hoped. Only after it cooked did we realize we forgot to put the thinly sliced onion we wanted to include on the experimental side too.

Served nicely with a simple arugula and blueberry salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar.

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