Yesterday’s post – while wicked tasty – kinda went on like a train wreck; what with the makin’ the pesto AND the Alfredo Sauce AND the chicken AND the dough AND only THEN – makin’ the ‘Za.
And now, for something completely different, a simple dinner casserole where you don’t even have to cook the pasta (!)
How easy is that?
Calling for jarred sauce, canned soup, pre-shredded cheese, frozen peppers and onions, and packaged meatballs – the hardest thing about this casserole turned out to be finding the mafalda noodles specified (turned out, I couldn’t, so I substituted some rainbow farfalle I had hanging about the pantry). Mafalda, it turns out, is not just a character from Harry Potter, but a darned elusive mini-lasagna noodle.
I did make a few other, minor tweaks to the original recipe (from the nice folk at Pillsbury in 2003) – but think this still more than qualifies as ‘easy pasta’.
•1 jar (14 or 15 oz) tomato pasta sauce
•1 can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
•1 cup water
•1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
•3 cups uncooked noodles
•1 cup frozen bell pepper and onion stir-fry (from 1-lb bag), larger pieces cut up – I used fresh: 1 green, 1 red, and 1 yellow pepper, with 1 onion and 1 shallot, minced. More than a cup, but, oh well…
•1 bag (16 oz) frozen cooked Italian meatballs (about 32 meatballs) -I make my own buttermilk meatballs in bulk, then freeze them in bags of 12 or so for just such an occasion as this
•1-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
•1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Season the veggies with a bit of salt and pepper, then sauté them in olive oil for about 8 minutes, and set aside to cool. The nice folk at Pillsbury chose to just add their frozen veggies directly from the package, but I am not a fan of uncooked peppers in a casserole.
Stir the soup, tomato sauce, water, and crushed red pepper (if you’re using it) together and pour over the cooled veggies. Add the meatballs and turn to coat well, then the uncooked pasta.
Turn the whole thing out into a 13×9 inch glass baking dish, check to make sure the pasta is totally covered (or, ermmm, at least really well-coated) with sauce, cover tightly with foil, and stash in the fridge overnight.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350° while you bring the casserole out of the fridge to warm up a touch.
Bake, still tightly covered, for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley.
Back to the oven, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and the casserole nicely bubbling.
Served along side a nice romaine salad topped with some of my Best! Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing you have yourself a nice little dinner without too, too much effort.
Just, mebbe, a bit of advanced planning…