This recipe, though just as good in the warm months, is the perfect meal for a cool Friday night. Maybe before a football game, or maybe at a high school football tailgate party, or maybe just at home before movie night. Whatever the plans in your house, this dish is filling and nutritious, and, of course, meatless. I think the addition of the artichokes makes the dish a little more "meaty."
I make my own sauce as directed in the recipe, but for a shortcut, use 28 oz. of quality sauce instead. Substitute your sauce for the first six ingredients.
Tomato, Basil, and Artichoke Baked Pasta
28 oz. can tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. sugar
3 T. chopped fresh basil
3/4 pound bow-tie or other shaped pasta
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
6 T. butter
¼ cup flour
2½ cups milk
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
Heat a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add oil and garlic and lower heat. Heat garlic for just a minute or two until it is fragrant -- do not cook it, you're going for a lightly roasted flavor. Add puree, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on med-low for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. When seasoning is right, add basil and turn off heat.
Heat water in a large pot to boil; salt and cook pasta to al dente. Drain pasta and pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Arrange artichoke quarters on top of pasta.
Make bechamel sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir, but do not brown. Add milk and bring to a boil, stirring until bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan.
Pour bechamel sauce over all the pasta and artichokes, but do not stir.
Pour red sauce over bechamel sauce and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly in the center.
Copyright 2014 Barbara Stein
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