Monday, November 17, 2014

Pizza Pasta (baked penne)

When folks learn that I preserve the food from our garden they often ask: "How do you use all that food?"

My goal in preserving our garden is not just to enjoy it all year, but also to have products on hand that make meal prep easier. One of my go-to quick, satisfying dishes is Pizza Pasta which uses our jarred tomatoes and pickled banana peppers, frozen sweet peppers, and cayenne made from our dried peppers.

The recipe is an oldie-but-goodie from my college days. You can increase or decrease the ingredients to feed more or less people, bake in a large casserole or individual ramekins and use whatever pizza toppings you like. We're fans of pepperoni, sausage and banana peppers. It would be just as tasty with different meats and sauces (chicken, artichoke and bacon with a white sauce sounds good).

Pair with a fresh, crispy salad and homemade focaccia for a hearty dinner.

We buy half a hog twice a year from Six Buckets Farm.
The hog is processed locally which allows us to select seasonings.
We usually order hot Italian and breakfast sausage.

In a large pan brown sausage. I typically use 1/2 lb for this recipe.
While sausage browns, cook pasta according to package directions.

Remove browned sausage from pan, pouring off all but 2 Tbsp fat.
Add chopped peppers and onions to the pan. Saute for 5-6 minutes.
Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
I use 3 cups of home canned tomatoes.
If you don't preserve tomatoes, substitute commercially canned. 

While vegetable saute, chop herbs. We still had fresh parsley and rosemary.
I added dried basil and oregano along with a pinch of our cayenne pepper.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cayenne, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

Combine sauce with cooked pasta and place in prepared dish. Top with pizza toppings.
I especially like the spicy, vinegary bite of pickled peppers.

We preserve a variety of peppers, but use the banana peppers in pasta,
salads and as a sandwich topper.
Top with cheeses and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cheesy, saucy, comforting goodness!

Pizza Pasta
12 oz penne or ziti. I prefer whole grain.
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup each chopped onion and sweet red or green pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups canned tomatoes with juice, home or commercially canned
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
pinch of cayenne, optional
Basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper to taste
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
Assorted pizza toppings of your choice: banana peppers, cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, olives, etc.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. In a large pan, saute onion and sweet peppers in olive oil until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and continue to cook an additional minute. Add tomatoes, paste and sugar. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add cayenne, herbs and season with salt and pepper. Toss sauce with pizza toppings, pour into prepared dish and top with cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes four generous servings.  

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