Is there a single person out there who doesn’t like Jamie Oliver? There may be a few who don’t know who he is but I’m guessing if you do, you love him.
Why? He’s adorable (in that men-don’t-have-to-be-gorgeous-for-women-to-think-they-are-sexy way), a brilliant cook, approachable, funny, and he wants to try and save the world with food. I always think of him when two ingredients go so well together, as in “potatoes and chives – best friends”. (If you have seen his show on the Food Network, you know what I am talking about.)
I’m not sure why I only have one of his cookbooks in my collection but I do and it is Jamie’s Italy. I love this book. I love the paper, I love the candid-looking and kind of messy photos. I love the simple and approachable food. And I love the recipes I have made from it.
Sometimes Randy and I have weeks where one or both of us is out almost every night. Last week was like that and I decided to make this hearty and tasty pasta so our boys and whichever parent was home could snack on it throughout the week. It kept very well, the boys liked, it, and the babysitter thought I was a hero for making dinner in advance.
One Year Ago: (what do you know, another baked pasta!) Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto
Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Adapted from Jamie’s Italy
My adaptions were to use a different shape pasta and to use much less cheese than he calls for. If you want it Jamie’s way use “4 big handfuls” of Parmesan cheese and 3 5-oz. balls of mozzarella. He also says this dish serves 4 but people ate this all week.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 or 2 dried red chilies, crumbled
3 14-oz. cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
Optional: 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 lb. orecchiette (DT: I used radiatore)
1 – 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 8-oz. container fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Preheat your oven to 400°F and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in an appropriately sized pan. Add your onion, garlic, and chili and slowly fry for about 10 minutes on a medium to low heat until softened but without any color. Add the canned tomatoes with a small glass of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. Now put them through a food processor or blender to make a loose sauce. Tear your basil leaves into the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a little red wine vinegar.
When the sauce tastes perfect, bring the water back to a boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook until it is just shy of al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan. Get yourself an appropriately sized baking pan or earthenware dish and rub it with a little olive oil. Layer a little pasta in the pan, followed by some tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and some mozzarella slices, then repeat these layers until you have used up all the ingredients, ending with a good layer of cheese on top. Pop the dish into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden, crisp, and bubbling. Garnish with additional basil leaves, if desired.