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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cavatini

Photo courtesy Taste of Home.
    Years ago, I remember going to a local eatery who served cavatini. It was one of my favorite dishes. It's a rich pasta casserole with layers of chunks of meat and veggies, smothered in sauce and topped with cheese. What's not to love?
    I decided to try and recreate that fond memory. It turned out more difficult than I thought. I couldn't find any prepackaged triple pasta and the wheel pasta was impossible. Improvising, I used three types of pasta that I had on hand - penne, spirals and shells. The veggies were cut bigger to balance out the thicker noodles.
    This turned out to be filling with a nice, hearty flavor. There isn't much prep time and the recipe is flexible. Did I succeed in my mission? No, close but no cigar.

Cavatini
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can mushroom pieces, drained
1 tsp. garlic powder, or 1 clover garlic, chopped
1 lb. assorted pasta (spirals, shells, wheels or penne)*
2 dozen pepperoni slices
1-16 oz. jar pasta sauce of choice + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

* The smaller pasta the better. If you have 3 types pasta, use 2/3 cup each type.

In large pot, fill at least half full of water, salt and bring to boil. Cook pasta 7-8 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside covered.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray coat or grease a 13x9x2 baking dish.

Brown meat in medium skillet until almost done and then add green pepper and onion. Add garlic and pepperoni. Cook until meat is done and then drain any excess grease.

Spread half of cooked pasta in baking dish and top with 1/2 of meat/veggie mix. Pour half of pasta sauce on top. Repeat another layer. Top with cheese.

Bake 45 minutes until cheese is melted. 
Serves 8-10. Recipe can easily be halved or doubled.
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