Fire Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda-Parm Baked Ziti

How many ingredients can you fit into the name of your dish? No matter. This pasta dish is perfect. It’s cheesy and saucy, noodle-y and yummy.  It’s somewhat traditional with a modern twist. I mean come on, let’s eat already.

Serves 8

As organic as possible:

2 red peppers

1 medium tomato

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil

1 tsp sugar, rounded

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

8 oz Gouda-Parmesan cheese (such as Trader Joe’s) freshly grated

2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

1 lb Ziti (or Penne…)
There are a couple steps to this recipe, but you can do this, and it’s worth it! Wash and dry your peppers and tomato. Then over a flame burner or grill, char the skins of the peppers and tomato until there is black on all sides. Place the charred veggies (and fruit) in an air tight container or plastic bag and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Remove charred skins from the fire roasted peppers and tomato. Slice the peppers into strips and discard stems and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes  and place all of the roasted produce in a food processor. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and purée.

In a large pot, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and cook the ziti (or penne, or what-have-you) about 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions. Strain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Place noodles back in the pot and set aside.

In the mean time heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Sauté onions for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add pepper purée, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Let simmer/sauté for 10-15 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and pepper. Stir and check for seasonings. Add salt, herbs and sugar as necessary. (Keeping in mind cheese will be salty too.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the sauce simmer for at least 15-20 minutes.

Add the sauce to the noodles and gently stir to coat. Add Gouda-Parm and Parmesan to the noodle mixture and gently toss to distribute cheese evenly. Place half of the noodle mixture in a large baking dish. Place half of the mozzarella slices sporadically on top of the pasta. Layer the rest of the pasta-cheese mixture and top again with the remaining mozzarella slices. *Dish can be prepared ahead of time to this point. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until mozzarella is melted and pasta is baked to perfection. Let pasta cool slightly before serving. Enjoy yourself, it’s a dolce vita.


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