Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.25

I cannot believe that this is my 25th recipe based post! I'm still a little disappointed that none of you guys have shared your escapades with me, perhaps you're not quite ready to share with the World Wide Web. I'd love to hear how you got on with any of my recipes though so please feel free to drop me a line.

Anyways, a lot of you may know, I'm a big lover of Italian food, simple flavours mean that the focus of the dish is good quality ingredients, which, when cooked correctly, will literally sing!

Ricotta Pasta Bake

This dish takes a wee while to put together but the satisfying crunch combined with the gooey cheese will make it all worth while.

For this dish you'll need:
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 packet of sausages, preferably some with a little bite
  • Basil leaves
  • 300g pasta shells (I used dried pasta)
  • 200g ricotta
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese
Right, lets get cooking. As always, the first thing you'll need to do is whack on the oven to 200 degrees and grab yourself an oven proof dish. Keep this handy as you'll need it in a wee while.

Next, grab a pan and add your pasta. I like to add a little olive oil and some salt to stop it all sticking together. You'll want to cook the pasta for around 10 minutes until it's al dente (or however the packet says it needs to be cooked).

While the pasta is cooking, I like to take the opportunity to make a start on the ragu. Sadly, this means that things are about to get messy. As we won't be cooking the sausages whole, you'll need to squeeze all of the sausage meat out of the sausage skins.
I literally have no words for the above picture. All I can say is things will get much prettier as things progress. I promise!

Next, it's time to fry off the garlic in a little olive oil until it's starting to brown slightly. Then add the gorgeous sausage meat and start smooshing it up so it resembles mince meat.
See, I told you things will get prettier. Once you've reached this stage, plonk in your tomatoes before leaving things to bubble away for around 10 minutes. Once it's reduced slightly, chop up some basil and throw this in before turning off the heat.
Incidentally, as we've now reached about 10 minutes, its time to completely drain the pasta before leaving it in the pan to cool slightly.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, it's time to mix up the good stuff. Grab your ricotta cheese and pop this in a bowl. Add some salt and pepper and some lemon juice (about a teaspoon) before giving it a good stir. Next, split the mozzarella ball in half setting one half to the side. Tear up the remaining half and add it to the bowl along with some more chopped basil (to taste in all honesty) and a good handful of parmesan. Give things another good stir.
By this point, I hope your pasta has cooled down enough. You literally just need to add the cheese mixture to your pasta and ensure everything is well mixed together.
Now it's time to layer everything up.

Start by adding a shallow layer of the ragu to the bottom of your dish, this will stop everything sticking.
Then add ALL of the pasta on top of this, it'll look like the below.
Then add the remainder of the ragu mixture on top. Once you've done this, add the remaining mozzarella ball before topping with some more parmesan.
I've placed my dish onto a tray in case anything bubbles over the sides. Once you've reached this stage, it's time to pop the finished dish into the oven for around 30 minutes or until it's golden and bubbling.
Then it's simply a case of taking what you fancy and plating up. This dish serves four very generously, it could probably serve 6 if you made a lovely side salad with tomatoes.
You get some crunch, some goo and a good kick from the sausages. The cheese mixture is wonderfully fresh owing to the lemon juice and fresh basil so this is ideal when the weather is perking up.

If you'd like some more Italian inspiration then please let me know, it's great for mid-week meals!

This recipe was inspired by the Cirio website and altered to suit my budget.

1 comment:

  1. Oooooh this sounds super yum. I may just have to try it. We're going grocery shopping tonight, and this sounds like something I'd like to eat in the next few days! I love cooking with sausage, especially sweet and spicy italian. I use it in pasta dishes all the time. What I like about your recipe is that you use a couple of my other favorite things: ricotta and basil. That's it. I'm making it. I'll let you know how it turns out!

    I have so many recipe and meal posts back-logged. They just take forever for me to write, and my food photography is...well...terrible. And unappetizing. I must try harder! haha

    <3 Liz


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