Just like our “clean-out-fridge” fritatta is a chance to use up produce and other food items about to expire, I conjured up this baked dish to accomplish a similar mission. You can of course substitute any of the ingredients to suit your own situation, but at least this’ll give you a basis from with to launch your meal plan.
Mine started with a half box of dried ditalini pasta. Ditalini “small thimbles” is a type of pasta that is shaped like small tubes; elbow macaroni would make a decent substitute. I also knew I needed to incorporate an opened package of mozzarella cheese before it turned; and a pound of ground beef ready to expire, but still good. I did make a grocery run for the fresh veggies and herbs (our garden was no where near ready in early Spring).
Then it was just a matter of sautéing things on the stovetop and cooking the pasta to less-than-al-dente before tossing it and some cheese altogether into a casserole dish for a half hour bake in the oven.
Let me know how your “bake” turns out…
- 8 oz. ditalini, or elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 bell peppers (mixed colors), seeded, deveined and diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 8 oz. baby portobellos, sliced and chopped
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 6 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, more for garnish
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, 1/2″ cubes
- 1/4 cup grated parmagiano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, and shallots and cook for 4 minutes until softened. Add garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add chopped peppers to skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Stir in mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook for 2-3 minutes then move all to a large bowl.
- Wipe out skillet if necessary, add 1 Tbsp. more oil and when hot, add the ground meat cooking until thoroughly through. Drain the grease from pan.
- Meanwhile cook pasta one minute less than package directions for al dente. Drain thoroughly.
- Put the veggie mixture into skillet with meat. Stir in tomato halves, chopped oregano and basil. Next add the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Mix in drained pasta.
- Spray a 4-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the mixture into prepared dish, add half of the mozzarella cubes. Repeat with the rest of mixture and mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the grated parm over the top and put into heated oven for 30 minutes. remove and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve more grated parm and chopped basil for garnish, if desired.