I don’t know why, but I just love baking pasta. Let me just say, this really doesn’t need to be baked. Of course if you want melty cheese on top, then yes it does. But this could just go straight from skillet to bowl if you want(and if you make sure to heat it through). But there’s just something about baking pasta. Is pasta more comforting when it’s baked? I have no idea, but it feels like it to me.
So of course, after these were all eaten I realized that I focused my pictures too much on the boring dishes in my shoot. This one above, not too exciting. I did make a few different version though and I found them to be much more exciting. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you want to to do.
I left the spinach out of a couple, but fresh spinach is so mild and virtually unnoticeable that I don’t recommend omitting it if you have it. And then I topped some with parmesan and some with mozzarella. I have to say the parmesan was prettier to photograph, but who doesn’t like a bubbly cheesy topping when their pasta comes out of the oven? So it’s totally up to you
I’ve also included a handy little printable for how to roast red peppers. When the bags of 4 red peppers come on sale I always get one, or sometimes two and roast them. Once they’re all clean I divide them up and put 2 peppers per container and then put them straight into the freezer. This way they’re super easy to take out and use in recipes and I’m not worried about using up 4 red peppers before they go bad. Plus, sometimes they come on sale for a really good price and when they’re in the freezer they’re always available.
- Red Peppers
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Place red peppers on a foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes, turning 2-3 times to evenly cook(peppers should be blackened on all sides).
- Remove from the oven and cover with more foil and let steam and cool for 30-40 minutes.
- Once cool, pull peppers apart into sections, removing the stem and the skin. Scrape the seeds and any remaining skin off with a knife and place in a container for storage.
- Once all the peppers are cleaned, store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze in usable portions for up to 6 months.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 32 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 roasted red peppers, cleaned and pureed
- ½ 1-6oz jar tomato paste
- 2 tsp marjoram(or just more oregano)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp honey(or sugar)
- salt to taste
- 1 300g box whole wheat pasta
- 1-2 tbsp packed fresh basil
- 3 large handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 200g feta cheese
- Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for topping
- In a large saucepan or skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onions and saute for 6-8 minutes, till translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute before adding the tomatoes, red peppers and tomato paste.
- Add the marjoram, oregano and bay leaf and bring up to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes over medium to medium low heat until as thick as desired.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cool water and set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Once cooked down, add the honey or sugar, salt. Adjust seasonings to taste and stir in the basil, spinach, feta and cooked pasta. Stir well to combine. Pour pasta into one large baking dish or 4-6 individual baking dishes. Top with cheese and place in the oven. Bake one large baking dish 30-40 minutes until heated through, bake individual dishes 20-25 minutes until bubbly and heated through.