Lazy Lady’s Dinner
August 16, 2010, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Meat, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Supper

See, today was #4’s first day of school: 6th grade! Woop! and because his school is Quite Small (18 kids in the 6th grade…the whole grade, and it’s the largest grade in the school with like…4 or 5 in each high school class…but I digress) they rely heavily on parent volunteers for stuff so I agreed to work the car line which involves standing in the August-In-South-Georgia-At-3pm sun and writing down names so the dude wearing the tie can call the kids up to get in their cars without having the entire elementary school population running around and getting run over…anyway…it was hot. Not particularly arduous but i got to look official with a clipboard. And I got a wee bit tired so decided whilst #4 was sitting at the dining table doing his homework I would throw something tasty together for supper, that would allow me to kick back with a glass of tea and enjoy the A/C once dinner was in the oven O yeah.
And here’s the recipe:

Ridiculously Easy Italian-Type But Not Actually Italian Pasta Bake (I hate calling things “bake” because it sounds like something you’d find in a Betty Crocker email, but there it is.)

1 pound ground round (I like the lean stuff, and it was on sale for CHEAP)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil (it was pouring rain and thundering, so I did not go to the garden for fresh. If you have fresh and don’t have to risk getting electrocuted to get it, more power to you. I’d probably use a small handful, chopped)
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic (I LOVE the already minced stuff in the jar, and buy those ginormous jars from StuffMart)
a generous pinch of red pepper flakes
a few grindings of black pepper, good and coarse
About half a cup of red wine (cheap merlot, or whatever)
1 box whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, but macaroni or penne…whatever)
About 2 cups shredded mozzerella (y’know…generous handsful. I never measure cheese.)
Brown the meat and put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, and once the meat is browned, add the tomatoes to the meat, and all the seasonings except for the wine. Simmer the sauce for about as long as it takes for the water to come to a rolling boil. Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the box (whole wheat rotini takes about 10 minutes). While the pasta cooks, let the sauce keep simmering. you want it to cook down a bit and get thicker. Taste it to see if you need more seasoning. When the past is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water. After you’ve done that, ignore it while you add wine to the sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever measured it…it’s kind of…hm…3 glugs (glug glug glug). Then stir it in good and simmer it for a teeny bit longer…not much, I mean you don’t have to go timing it for 4 minutes and 30 seconds or anything, but if you need to go off and do something else, this is a good time to. Just turn the stove way low and let it simmer.
To assemble it all, put half the pasta in the bottom of a deep and well oiled casserole dish. Put half the sauce on top and spread it around. Then put a generous handful of cheese on top and spread that around. Throw on some parmesan too, if you want, or use sliced fresh mozzerella, or shredded fontina (actually I never use fontina, but have found that muenster tastes almost exactly the same and costs half as much…or less)…y’know, throw some cheese in there. Then put the other half of the pasta on top, then the sauce, then more cheese. Bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so. You can, if you want, put it together the day before and refrigerate, or even freeze it for an emergency…or use 2 smaller casserole dishes and eat one today and freeze one for later. It freezes really well and is a tasty gift to give someone who’s sick or had a baby. You could also use the commercially blended Italian Seasoning Herbs in place of the basil, but I am out of that and have a half pint jar of basil, so that’s what I used. It’s a very forgiving dish.
The whole thing goes together in about 10 minutes, even faster if you CHEAT and use premade sauce or that stuff from the jar. But the sauce is so simple and delicious and doesn’t have the God Knows What in it that the commercial stuff has, go ahead and make your own!! And keep a bottle of red wine in the fridge,to add to pasta sauces and pot roasts and anything that would benefit from the extra layer of flavor.
Also, if you think you’ve added enough cheese and you’re being all precious about calories and fat and cheese is scary about all that, get over it an add a little more cheese. Because really…you need the calcium for your bones.

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