A lovely pasta bake that according to Mr Jamie Oliver is the most standard school dinner that exists in Italy. Taken from his Italy book, this is a winner in our house, and so very very easy to assemble. I’d happily eat school dinners if they were this good, interestingly it’s Italian law that it only be made with organic pasta and extra virgin olive oil! English schools take note!
Apart from the Mozzarella it can be made from standard store cupboard stuff, which is precisely why I came to make it last night as we desperately need a big shop, though I do sneakily keep Mozzarella in the freezer incase an impromptu pizza night comes about. I used penne pasta and Grana Padano cheese rather than Parmesan.
Enough for 4 very hungry grown ups:
salt and pepper
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 or 2 dried red chillies, crumbled
3 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes, chopped
a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
optional: 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
400g/14oz dried orecchiette pasta
4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 x 150g balls of Mozzarella, sliced
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Add a couple of tbsp of olive oil to a large high sided saucepan and place on the heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is softened. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, allow to simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Blend the sauce with a stick blender or place in a food processor.
Add your basil to the sauce as well as the red wine vinegar (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook your pasta according to packet instruction in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Once cooked drain and stir in half the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan.
Into a large baking tray or earthenware dish place about a third of the pasta. On top of this add some tomato sauce, a handful of Parmesan, and one of the sliced up Mozzarella balls. Repeat these layers twice, ending up with a lovely cheesy layer on top.
Place in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or so.
Lovely served with a nice crisp green salad and a hunk of bread.