We’ve been weaning ourselves off dairy because Rich seems to do much better without. A schmear of cream cheese on a bagel, or a bit of butter in a baked good seems to be ok – but his days of happily ingesting cheese topped cheese are over. It’s too bad, too; because I really liked this pasta casserole with cheese mixed in, then topped with cheese and crumbs and baked…
But then, I got to wondering how, exactly, would it be without all that cheese? Pretty darned tasty, as it happens…
•Doctored Sauce with ground turkey
(I had about a half-batch leftover)
•1 small can diced tomatoes with garlic
•5 ribs celery, chopped
•Black olives, sliced
•1 cup panko crumbs
•1 tbsp sugar
•Campanelle pasta (I was out of spaghetti)
•Salt and Pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat and add the celery.
Season with salt (I used my Seasoned Salt) and pepper, then sauté for two minutes.
Stir in the canned diced tomatoes, the leftover Doctored Sauce, the sugar, and the bay leaf, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every now and again. Taste and add seasoning if you think it needed. Remove the bay leaf and set the sauce aside.
Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions (I would break spaghetti noodles in half), then drain and add to the sauce along with the sliced black olives.
Mix well and turn into a lightly oiled baking pan.
Here’s the key bit: pop the whole thing into the fridge to rest for three or four hours. The pasta will soak up any excess liquid (and flavor) from the sauce, and you’ll end up with a much better casserole.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350º.
While the oven is heating, pull the casserole from the fridge, top with the panko crumbs, and cover tightly with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes to crisp the panko topping.
We did add a sprinkling of freshly grated Asiago over our individual servings and thought it quite nice.
Of course, later that same week, Rich was on a bidness trip and I had some folk over for Galette and conversation; and Mira was really wanting some pasta, so I added a bit of cheddar, some more of that nice Asiago, just a touch of Aleppo pepper and popped it all in the ‘wave.
Wicked Good. But still less cheese than in the original recipe.