Cleaning Out The Fridge

You know those days where you’ve got a few odds and ends laying around, but you don’t want to go to the store?  Welcome to today.  I’m feeling a little under the weather (gotta love those Houston allergens) so just decided to make do with what I had on my pantry shelves and in the fridge.

So what did I have:  a bunch of herbs, several pastas, lots of tomato sauce, half a bottle of red wine, some parmesan, provolone, and broccolini.  I decided on a baked pasta with fresh sauce.  I didn’t have any thawed meat on hand, so it’s vegetarian.  The red wine adds a nice depth of flavor, and I like the addition of the broccolini – it’s got enough bite to take this from a basic tomato sauce to something a little more special.   Also, it’s not baby broccoli, which is a common misconception.  Broccolini is actually a hybrid veg, made from regular broccoli and Kai-lan (chinese broccoli).  I find that the flavor is actually more similar to kai-lan than broccoli.

Anyway, here’s my recipe!

Baked Cavatappi with Tomato Sauce & Broccolini

1 Bag cavatappi, cooked to al dente

Olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs rosemary, minced

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 C red wine

1 bunch broccolini, just the tops and first inch of stalk chopped off.  The pieces should be bite sized

4-5 Tbs basil, chiffonade

10 cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 can crushed tomatoes

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3/4 C shredded parmesan cheese

8 slices provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic, rosemary, and fennel seeds and saute for 2 minutes.  Pour in the red wine.   It will simmer up a little bit, which is what you want.  Add the broccolini, and let it cook about 3 minutes until just softened.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes, red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, and basil.   Let cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine the sauce with the pasta, and then pour about a quarter into a baking dish.  Layer a little of the parmesan and two pieces of the provolone, and then repeat this process until the dish is full.  Finish with the provolone.

Bake covered for 15 minutes, and then uncovered for another 10 minutes or until bubbling and hot.cavatappi2


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