One of my absolute favorite things about cooking is when a dish signals its completion by browning. From the decadent (creme brulée) to the demure (toast, anybody?), the deepening to gold of any cuisine is like some kind of consumptive mating dance...a visual offering that elicits desire in any onlooker à la peacock. Hence my attraction to a classic like the baked pasta casserole. So perfectly crusty and golden. I'm sure my recent infatuation with summer-time pizza is fully responsible for this recipe, and I apologize in advance for any disgusting and flagrant displays of joy on my part if you're around me the next time I make it.
You Will Need:
A few cups of pasta (the wider and heartier the noodle the better)
1 cup shredded mozarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups of spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes (a little goes a long way, hoo boy)
1/2 onion (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (died)
Prep time first! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and oil up a large/deep baking dish. Boil the pasta, toss it with olive oil, and set it aside for later. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in the chopped onion and let it cook for several minutes, until the slices start to brown. Add in the garlic and the sun dried tomatoes. Stir the mixture and let it cook for a minute or so, making sure everything is thoroughly coated. Then add the spinach, making sure everything is still well mixed. A few whirls around with your spatula should do it, then remove the goods from the heat. Toss it in the large bowl with the pasta, and stir everything together. Then stir it some more. Add a layer of this mixture to the bottom of the baking dish, following it with a hearty dusting of sliced mozzarella. Repeat, until all the pasta and all the cheese are used up. Make sure to leave enough cheese to be sprinkled over the very top...this is the key part, now. (Without the cheese topping you'll have none of the fine and delicious golden crust.)
Cover the dish and place it in the oven, cooking for about thirty to forty minutes. Trust me, you'll know when it's done. Aromatic, bubbling...sigh. I wish I could eat the whole thing all over again right now.