Pasta Pie

We were having family over for a feast and, while I had the basics covered – Pickled Avocado, Snoop Dogg’s Most Excellent Ham, Deviled Eggs and the like; I was in need of some options. One nephew was vegetarian, and a sister in law could not eat gluten, so, while the ham was good for her (and she loved the pickled avocado), the feast day potatoes were out.

What to do? Why, make a gluten free chickpea pasta pie with home made vegetarian tomato basil sauce, of course!

By the way, thanks to the very nice folk at Food Network for the original recipe, Rigatoni Pie.

First, a note about the pasta. We’ve been loving the Banza chickpea pasta – available at most of our local markets, either in with the pasta, or in the Gluten Free section.


The nice folk at Banza tell you to “expect foam” when cooking, and man! are they not kidding! You are gonna want to use your tallest pot, and still be prepared for some foamy spillage and cleanup.’

Still totally worth it, this really good stuff.

•6 tbsp olive oil
•9 cloves garlic, minced*
•1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
•28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
•15 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
•1-1/2 cup water
•1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
•1 tsp Kosher salt
•2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 lb rigatoni
•1 lb mozzarella, grated
•2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

•9 inch spring form pan

*Note: I buy my garlic peeled and marinated from the olive bar at one of my local markets.

Warm four tablespoons of the olive oil over medium low heat, then, add the garlic once the oil begins to sizzle.

Cook, stirring every now and then, for six minutes, until the garlic is browned and soft.

Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes and water.

Note: do not drain the tomatoes, add the juice in as well.

Set the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Don’t stress if the tomatoes seem a bit lumpy, a good whizzz with an immersion blender a bit later on will make all right with the world.

Lower the heat to keep the sauce simmering and cook, stirring often for 15 minutes, until the sauce been reduced and thickened.

Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, salt, and peppers, and set aside to rest for ten minutes or so.

While the sauce is resting, go ahead and cook your pasta according to package instructions, but undercooking it just a bit – just eight minutes – before draining, rinsing, and  spreading out on a rimmed baking sheet and tossing with one tablespoon of olive oil. My chickpea pasta guys don’t seem to make rigatoni, which was originally called for, but the penne I opted for worked a treat.

Pop your cooled sauce into a blender – or, use your wicked handy immersion blender (why do you not have one of these?) and purée until smooth.

By the way, this is one very nice sauce!

Line a rimmed baking ban with foil and brush the spring form pan with that final one tablespoon of olive oil.

Place the cooked and oiled pasta in the oiled spring form pan – the nice folk at Food Network stood their rigatoni on end to make for a totally cool presentation. The penne saved my from dealing with that, and my pie still came out fine and tasty.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, spreading it and pushing down just a bit with the back of a spoon to get in all the crevices.

Top with the cheeses and cover with foil, tenting the top a bit to keep the foil from touching the cheeses.

Note: I made my pasta pie a day ahead and stashed it, covered, in the fridge. If you want to use it right away, bake in a hot 375º oven, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for ten minutes before removing the ring around the pan (running a knife between the pasta and the pan makes this part easier).

Cut in wedges and serve.

Since I made mine a day ahead, I brought the pan out of the fridge to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking in that hot 375º oven for 30 minutes covered and another 30 minutes uncovered.

It all worked a treat, and, feast day or not, I will be making this again!

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