I was one of the many people in the DC area who attempted to stock up on supplies before “Snowzilla” arrived. Three days out, I bought firewood and made sure that I had enough gas. The day before the storm, I went to Whole Foods on my lunch hour to buy a few odds and ends, and the half of the meat counter was empty! Most of the store was empty. It was truly unbelievable. Since I wasn’t sure how long we were going to be in the house, I wanted to make a dish that we could nosh on for a few days. Something that would be warm and comforting. For me that meant spaghetti bake. I grew up on this lovely concoction of spaghetti mixed with a marinara meat sauce and chunks of cheese. As I grew older and started making is myself, I called it lazy man’s lasagna because it was just as satisfying and easy to put together.
Unfortunately, since it was Armageddon day at Whole Foods they were out of Italian sausage, so I bought ground beef with the intention of adding spices to make as Italian sausage-like as possible. My next favorite stop is what I call the remnant cheese bin. It’s a little basket tucked away in the cheese section where you can find little wedges of any cheese you may find in the cheese section, but for a fraction of the cost. It’s my favorite way to discover new cheeses. This time, I chose Cabot cheddar, emmental, and comte.
One mistake I made was assuming that I had spaghetti at home! I was sure that I did, but when Saturday morning arrived and I was ready to cook, I had no spaghetti! I was pretty frustrated but made the most of it by using rotini. Hence the birth of rotini pasta bake! It was the best dish for a cold snowy weekend. Pasta, sauce, melted bursts of cheese, it was the perfect dish to eat while watching the snow fall.
Rotini Pasta Bake
- 1 jar ((15oz) of tomato basil sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce))
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 2 cloves of garlic (, crushed)
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups of your favorite cheese (, diced)
- 8 ounces rotini pasta
- grated parmesan cheese (, for topping)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil pasta according to instructions, drain, and drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan brown the ground beef with the garlic, sage, fennel, oregano and a dash of salt and pepper. Drain and return to pan. Add sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add pasta and toss coating the pasta well with the sauce. Fold in the diced cheese and pour into a 2 quart casserole pan. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve warm.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.