Gemelli Pasta Bake with Parmesan & Mozzarella and Rustic Italian Bread

++ For my recipe for Rustic Italian Bread – please follow this link – https://myyellowfarmhouse.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/rustic-italian-bread

Rustic Italian Bread - myyellowfarmhouse.com

A meal featuring saucy/cheesy baked pasta with a warm slice of homemade rustic Italian bread is always a sure winner. This recipe is a snap to make and it can be put together ahead of time – which is always nice, especially when you’re having guests.

In my case, I was at our house in the Pocono Mountains, with plans to leave the next day, when I decided that I’d rather cook up something with whatever was in the refrigerator rather drag it all home. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I love “digging in the fridge” and making “what’s for dinner” using whatever I find. I found a bit of left-over spaghetti sauce that I’d made following ChgoJohn’s recipe for basic meat sauce. (It makes quite a bit, so I’d frozen some). http://fromthebartolinikitchens.com/2013/01/16/basic-meat-sauce-sugo-di-carne/ I also found some left-over red and green pepper, an onion, some left-over bottled spaghetti sauce – and – digging further, I found a box of  pasta in the cupboard. We had run out of Parmesan, so I ran to the store – while there, I also purchased a bag of shredded Mozzarella.

I often bring my bread machine to the Pocono house, and my grandchildren love both making – and eating – homemade bread. So I decided I’d make – for the very first time – an Italian bread using the bread machine for the dough and then baking the bread in the oven. I’d never made Italian bread before and I was so happy with the results.  In fact, the bread looked so beautiful it almost looked fake!

And – I gotta say – the pasta turned out yummy, though I only ate a small bit ’cause I wanted to freeze both the bread and the pasta for my son and his family when they returned to the Pocono house. And were they ever glad because on their next trip they brought along a bunch of nieces and nephew. From what I was told, the pasta – and especially the bread – were big hits!

Pocono House - view from LodgeView from the fabulous new lodge built by the ‘association’ where we have our home in the Pocono Mountains. I LOVE sitting here – you can bring something to eat, and, better yet… something to drink!   So very peaceful….

gemelli pasta - from frites and fries.comGemelli (pasta), which comes from the Italian word for twin, resembles two strands of pasta twisted together. These small pasta twists keep their shape and hold the flavor of sauce beautifully while retaining a firm “al dente” texture – which makes Gemelli perfect for a baked pasta dish.     (Photo courtesy of Frites and Fries.com)

Ingredients for Gemelli Pasta Bake with Parmesan & Mozzarella

Oven at 350 F

Cook  . . .  covered – for 30 minutes.   Uncover….cook for another 15 minutes

++ If the pasta has been refrigerated, it’ll take a bit longer to cook. (Here’s what I do to tell if it’s hot enough – I put a CLEAN finger in the middle – if it’s hot in the middle, then it’s ready!)

  • olive oil – about 2 Tbs.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 (24 oz) jars of spaghetti sauce    (I like Bertolli “Tomato & Garlic”.)
  • ++ If you have some left-over sauce with meatballs or sausage, chop up the meatballs/sausage and add to the pasta. Or – you could add some left-over chicken or ground beef.
  •  3 – 4 cups UNCOOKED Gemelli pasta, cooked according to package directions for al dente.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese PLUS 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top       (I highly recommend you buy freshly grated Parmesan – it just tastes so much better!)
  • 1 bag shredded Mozzarella – DIVIDED
  • salt & pepper to taste

Follow the package instructions for cooking Gemelli pasta al dente. Once cooked, drain  in a colander & rinse to prevent further cooking.  While your pasta is cooking, heat some oil olive in a large skillet, and cook the green pepper, red pepper and onion just until they’re just “crisp tender”. If adding left-over sauce with meatballs etc. – add it now. If adding raw ground beef or chicken, remove the veggies and continue cooking until no longer pink. Reintroduce the veggies and add sauce. Mix well.

Gemelli Pasta Bake - Sauce

Pour your sauce into a big bowl. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 1/2 the bag of shredded Mozzarella & combine.

Gemelli Pasta and Sauce

Pour into a large casserole dish or a 13′ x 9″ pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and the rest of the bag of shredded Mozzarella.

Gemelli Pasta Bake - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Bake at 350 F – covered – for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes – or until heated through.

If the pasta has been refrigerated, remove it from fridge about 20 minutes before cooking. – it might still take a bit longer go heat up – say 40 minutes covered   &   15 more uncovered.    Enjoy !

Gemelli Pasta Bake - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Italian Pasta Sauce with Meat and Fresh Herbs

Recipe makes approximately  2 quarts.  The sauce freezes well, so you can make a lot and freeze it for later! Or, you can easily halve the recipe.

Ingredients 

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil     
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef 
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped   (About 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced    (I highly recommend using a garlic press.)
  • 4 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh parsley –  divided
  • 4 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh basil –  divided
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup red wine
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano
  • OPTIONAL – 10 Crimini (or any type of brown mushroom) mushrooms, sliced       

In a large skillet with high sides – or a large pan, such as the size you boil pasta in, heat  3 Tbs. olive oil – add 3/4 lb. ground beef and 3/4 lb. ground pork. Break up the meat as it cooks, and continue cooking until juices run clear. Continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed and meat is browned a bit. Add chopped onion, HALF the chopped parsley, HALF the chopped basil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Continue cooking until onion is translucent.

Basic Italian Pasta Sauce with Meat - My Yellow Farmhouse.com -

Add tomato paste and mix until paste is thoroughly combined with the meat/onion mixture. Cook for another minute, then add the red wine. Allow to simmer a few minutes to intensify the flavors, then pour in the two cans of diced tomatoes.

 Basic Italian Meat Sauce - before simmering

I like to use a mesh cover to cut down on splashing. (I wonder why I bother… my kitchen is always a total disaster when I cook!)

splash screen - John's sauce

Simmer the sauce – uncovered – for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every once in a while.  ++  If you prefer your sauce thicker, just continue simmering a bit longer.

Basic Italian Pasta Sauce with Meat - after 1 hour - My Yellow Farmhouse.comPhoto shows Italian Pasta Sauce with Meat and Fresh Herbs – 1 hour into cooking time.

Add the rest of the chopped fresh basil and chopped fresh parsley, which will gives you a wonderful burst of flavor.

++ The diced tomatoes may still be a bit “chunky at the end of the cooking time.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can “mash” the the diced tomatoes down a bit with a potato masher, which is what I do.

Remove the sauce from the heat.   Pour yourself a glass of some of that red wine and enjoy !

Basic Pasta Sauce with Meat - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Here’s the link to my friend John’s Italian Pasta Sauce recipe, which was the basis of this recipe. http://fromthebartolinikitchens.com/2013/01/16/basic-meat-sauce-sugo-di-carne/