Friday, May 29, 2009

Italian Night: Loaded Pasta Casserole

I seem to have exceptionally poor timing when planning my baking nights lately. I live in London, and on any given day the temperature recently has been fluctuating so greatly that I never really know if it will be somewhat chilly or swelteringly hot. As it turned out, tonight was one of those very hot evenings when the last thing I felt like doing was switching on my oven. Of course, that wasn't really very practical, since I already had all of the ingredients ready to go for tonight's meal, so I toughed it out.

I had been inspired by some droolworthy photos I had seen on Precious Moments of a pasta bake she and a friend had made together one night. There was no recipe posted, so I did my best to interpret the ingredients from the before and after photos on her site. I then added my own ideas and I was very happy with the result.

Loaded Pasta Casserole (inspired by Precious Moments)
(8 servings)

8 ounces spiral shaped green pasta
8 ounces rigatoni
1 pound ground beef
1-2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup orange sweet pepper, seeded, finely chopped
Lawry's seasoned salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 cups spaghetti sauce, approximately
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, approximately
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

I cooked about a pound of pasta total, mixing two different colored pasta shapes (green spirals and white rigatoni). While the pasta was cooking, I browned a pound of ground beef in a skillet with a touch of olive oil. I used very lean meat, so there really wasn't a lot of fat to drain off. Once the meat was browned through, I added about a cup of finely chopped orange sweet peppers (which I seeded first) and about a teaspoon or two of fresh minced garlic. I also added some seasoned salt and pepper. I let this cook while I drained the pasta and chopped up some fresh tomatoes, about 2 large juicy beefsteak tomatoes.

Next, I poured a bit of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" glass baking dish, then sprinkled the meat mixture on top. I spooned another bit of sauce on top of the meat, then added the pasta noodles. I put the rest of the sauce on top of the noodles, then sprinkled the chopped tomatoes and about a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese all over the top. I tucked in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden and popped the casserole into a preheated 180C /350 F oven for about 30 minutes, uncovered.


  1. Oh that looks really good Heather! I'd say you did really well, and if it only tasted half as good as it looks, it must have been delicious!! It was a lovely day yesterday and quite warm, but it sure cooled off when the sun went down, which I didn't mind at all. I like it cool to sleep!

  2. Thank you, Marie. Yes, it really turned out nicely, I was pleased with it. I will miss having the fresh herb garden right outside my door when I move. It was so nice to just pick a few sprigs of rosemary for the casserole.

  3. That look ssuper good, Heather! Love your blog!

  4. Hi ya! I found your blog winding through Foodie BlogRoll. I love your recipes and photos. Well done! My blog is about my adventures while living in the UK as well (well, kind of). I'd love for you to visit and follow if you'd like. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  5. Thank you Karen :) I just paid a visit to yours as well. I may have to give your berry crumble a try - it looked very tasty.

  6. Hi Heather. You can definitely leave the fenugreek out of the Chicken Korma. It's just a flavor that I really like that isn't usually found in Korma at all. I can never leave well enough alone.

  7. Oh this looks so good Heather! I made a pasta dish yesterday for lunch. My family love pasta so this one must try out now too!

    Rosie x

  8. Thanks Rosie :) And thanks for stopping by :)