We know, we know. We should really be leaving summer behind and jumping right into fall baking and pumpking everything, all the time. And for the most part, we are. But there are some flavors of summer that we just can’t let go. And caprese is one of them. Fall is our favorite season and about a week into summer, when everything melts from merely thinking of walking outside, we start to yearn for it. So let’s bring a little summer into fall.
You know, the more we think about it, this pasta bake is really better suited as a fall dinner. Sure, the flavors are summery, but you bake it. And we go to all manner of extremes NOT to bake anything in the summer, because the minute that oven is on, the temperature goes from a cool 99 degrees inside to 5,000 degrees of infernal heat.
This pasta bake is also really hearty and warm and filling. Which also lends itself to fall. So let’s just officially turn this season into a pumpkin everything, all the time/caprese everything, all the time fall season, yeah? Good. This dish is bursting with bright flavors from the tomatoes and basil, and creamy, melty cheese is studded throughout, making its way into every bite. Every. Bite. This is crucial. Cheese in every bite takes this pasta bake from ordinary to oh-my-goodness-lets-just-stop-using-forks-and-eat-the-rest-with-our-fingers-straight-outta-the-pan.
So now that we have convinced you of the fall merits of this dish, make it for dinner tonight, and dig in. Forks, optional.
-Heather and Melissa
Baked Caprese Rigatoni
1 lb uncooked rigatoni
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
6 small fresh tomatoes, diced
1 12-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups your favorite jarred tomato sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn or sliced into ribbons
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside. Preheat broiler.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to the hot pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, taking care not to burn the garlic.
- Add crushed tomatoes and fresh tomatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add half of the basil and cook for about a minute. Remove from heat.
- Combine pasta and tomato mixture. Add tomato sauce and stir to combinbe. Pour into a big 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle cheese over top. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.
Source: Pinch of Yum