Friday, December 26, 2008

Baked Creamy Tomato & Mozzarella Rigatoni

I still remember Xmas day when I was in the UK. As a Muslim I don't celebrate Xmas, the experience was nonetheless enriching. My first Xmas was with a foster family in Rugby, Warwickshire. 

Decorating the Xmas tree. Wrapping presents to put under the tree. Stockings. Leaving milk & mincepie (I love those mincepies!) for Santa Claus. The next day lunch: stuffed roast turkey, brussel sprouts, roast potato and gravy followed by christmas pudding. Exchanging presents. Party games. Of course no alcohol for me being a teetotal! Only later I found out about the mistletoe and stuff....u know what I mean.

Jingle bell! Jingle bell! Jingle on the way! Those were the days....

I digressed......

My wife & I  only had pasta bake on Xmas day.
It was my turn to cook. So I chose to cook the simplest dish I know....simple but delish!

Ingredients for sauce
U can buy ready-made sauce but to make it yourself, u need

1 can  tomatoes 
1 capsicum (green pepper)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs mozzarella cream cheese

Chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes & capsicum into chunks. I like it chunky & rustic!
Add cream cheese.

Cook some pasta (roughly 1 mug for each person) in plenty of salted water till "al dente".

Tips of cooking pasta I learned from Chef Michael Smith
1. Do not add oil in water
2. Do not rinse cooked pasta with water
Reason: the starch layer on pasta will let more sauce to stick to it!

There are about 1000 pasta shapes 
Shaped pasta: farfalle (bow-tie), fusilli (spiral), conchiglie (shell) etc
Tubular: canneloni, macaroni, rigatoni, penne
Strand: spaghetti, angelhair, capellini (in descending thinness)
Ribbon pasta: linguine, tagliatelle, fettuchine, lasagna 
Stuffed pasta: tortellini, ravioli
........but I personally like penne. For this dish I chose rigatoni ("ridged large tube" i.e more sauce will stick on and in the pasta)

Brown 400g minced beef with olive oil in a separate pan.
Preheat oven 190 Celcius.
Put cooked pasta in baking dish.
Layer browned meat and any vegetable (I put shitake mushroom)
Then pour sauce on top.
Cover with grated mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 15 min or till top brown.
Best served with grated parmesan and an empty stomach!


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