Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stocking the Freezer: Pasta Sauce Two Ways

Moving is always such a stressful busy time for me. You would think after several months of downsizing my pantry that I would have finally run it dry by now, but alas, I still have quite a few things left to use up. Moving house really makes you realize just how much food you really have stockpiled in every nook and cranny of your kitchen.

All of my things will be packed up this week and shipped back to the US, so I will be without my kitchen supplies for a while. I have another week left here before I actually leave, however. Rather than spending every night eating out, I wanted to stock my fridge and freezer with home cooked meals. Not only is it friendlier on my waistline and my wallet, but it also uses up a lot of loose ends of food I still would otherwise have to get rid of.

I gathered up all the remnants of the bags of pasta shapes I had tucked in the cupboards and cooked them all together, which I then bagged up in separate freezer pouches. Then I made a batch of Bubbe's Sweet & Sour Meatballs, popping them in a pouch and into the freezer to eat later in the week with some rice. I also made a half batch of Bolognese Sauce, using this recipe.

I planned to serve half of the sauce with the one bag of my pasta melange and use the other half in some baked ziti. I also packaged up the leftover Jelly Jammies and Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf.

Here is what I did with the Bolognese Sauce the first night:

And then meal number two ... a variation of my usual Baked Ziti recipe, with a few changes in order to use up things I had on hand in my not-quite-bare-yet-but-getting-there fridge:

Improvised Baked Ziti

(serve 4-6)

(OK just close your eyes and pretend there was ziti in there .. and not an odd mix of every other shaped pasta except actual ziti.)

Something magical happens when the creme fraiche bakes atop the Bolognese sauce, easily and more than adequately taking the place of a Béchamel sauce or another cheesey filling. I know it may sound weird, but it works so well and it is really quite scrumptious. This is actually something I use in my baked ziti normally, even when I am not trying to use up my ingredients.

2 cups ziti or other pasta shapes, cooked, drained, cooled slightly
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Bolognese Sauce, heated
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup creme fraiche
2 Tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Preheat your oven to 350 F (190 C) and have ready a medium sized deep casserole dish. I used an oval Corningware baking dish with a lid.

Place the warm pasta into your casserole and then drizzle a bit of oil over it. Give it a good toss to make sure everything is coated. Don't add too much, just enough to make the pasta a little shiny. Next take a good handful of shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it over the pasta. Ladle about half of the warm sauce on top of the cheese, then spread the creme fraiche on top. Add another handful of cheese to cover the surface, then grate a bit of Parmigianno-Regianno over the top, as much or as little as you like. There is no need to add any seasonings, as the sauce already is chock full of them.

Pop the lid on and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Serve with a simple salad and some bread. The Simple Salad was just a mixture of lettuces, some wonderful fresh tomatoes, a small tin of chickpeas which I dressed with an eyeballed mixture of walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar and salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.


  1. You have some wonderful ideas here Heather. I need to do more cooking in advance. I am sure I would save us money, not to mention the savings in time!

  2. There is a great incentive when you know you won't have any cooking supplies for a week ;) I will have a few borrowed items, but just a few basics to reheat stuff with in the microwave, etc. Thankfully the microwave stays with the property, so I can still use it throughout the week.