Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baked Penne

We're still using up the pasta Mr. Kim Chee bought so many months ago (first referenced in Eggs in Purgatory.) I'd been craving pasta with tomato sauce but was in a hurry and didn't have enough time to make meatballs. And we still had three boxes of penne!

Here are the ingredients--all stuff most people have on hand all the time anyway.

Start with some olive oil in a pan.

My poor pan. It's seen better days.

Throw in a pound of ground beef and start it browning over medium heat.

At the same time, start a large pot of salted water for your pasta. I apparently didn't take any pictures of that, but that's really not a very interesting step anyway.

While your water is heating and your beef is browning, start chopping your veggies. I used half an onion, three garlic cloves (to keep vampires away), and what amounted to about half a pepper.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I like to buy peppers on sale, cut them into quarters, and freeze them. That way, I always have all the colors on hand, which works out well since greens (the least expensive) are not my favorites.

Once your beef has some color, add your veggies and get them cooking. Give them a healthy dose of salt and pepper while you're at it.

Once the vegetables are softened, pour in a big can of tomato sauce. Hopefully the pan you picked is big enough!

Measure out some Italian seasoning and stir it in.

Now let your meat and tomato mixture simmer. You might have to turn the heat down--tomato sauce spatters pretty violently.

By this time, the pasta water should be boiling. Pour in half a pound of uncooked pasta and give it a good stir.

Let the pasta boil about 10 minutes or until almost cooked. Drain and then pour back into the pot.

Carefully pour the meat and tomato mixture over the top.

Add some Parmesan cheese to the mix and stir things up.

Preheat your oven to 350F and pour the pasta mixture into a large casserole dish. I like lots of melted cheese on mine, so I used a shallow dish.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. I also like to give the top a few grinds of pepper.

Toss in the oven and let the cheese get melty.

Once the cheese is beautiful and bubbly, pull the pasta out and serve!

This is a quick and easy meal that the most picky eater will love. Want to get more veggies into your kids? Covering them with tomato sauce and sprinkling with cheese is a great way to do it! It also reheats well and is a nice leftover meal for at work.

Recipe: Baked Penne

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 an onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
1/2 pepper, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 lb. (half a box) penne

1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large frying pan, brown ground beef. Once beef is cooked through, add onion, garlic, pepper, and salt and pepper. Saute until softened.

Add tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to ground beef mixture. Simmer while you wait for the pasta.

In a large pot, heat water until boiling. Salt well. Once water is boiling, add penne. Cook penne until al dente (nearly cooked.) Drain.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Toss penne with ground beef and tomato mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Pour pasta into a shallow baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted. Serve!


  1. Thanks for the pepper tip! I hate green peppers but love all the other colors. Never thought of freezing them...

  2. FYI: Aldi sells a three pepper pack, one green, one red, and one yellow for around $2.50, less in the summer. (I can never resist an Aldi plug!)

  3. I used to hate the thought of freezing anything, honestly! But I hate throwing peppers away. They can get so expensive! I don't eat them raw so freezing them works out really well. I've started hoarding shredded cheese in the freezer too.

    Thanks for the tip on Aldi! I don't go there that often and when I do it's always the one time I don't have any change on me so can't get a cart :P I'll have to give them another try!