My family loves pasta – that BFF kind of love that never leaves you. Growing up, it wasn’t called pasta though, it was either spaghetti or macaroni, or as my Grampy would call any of it, “Italian food” with a strong emphasis on the I (and as a meat & potatoes kind of guy, he wasn’t really a fan). Nowadays, I consider pasta a pantry staple, an ingredient that comes in countless forms, something that can be used in so many different varieties and ethnicities of cooking.
While pasta has found its way into so many of our meals, there are some recipes that are just slightly modified versions of the classics. These are the recipes that become our favourites; the perfect comfort food on a cold, winter’s night. This is one of those recipes – it’s so simple with just a slight twist that was first tried as an experiment one night, that has now turned into a must. Hubs couldn’t quite put his finger on my ‘secret ingredient’ at first, but he still makes the same ‘Mmm…’ sounds whenever I make this for dinner.
Cheesy Garlic Pasta Bake (makes 6 generous servings)
- 1 (375g) box CATELLI SMART® Rotini Pasta
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups (750 ml) your favourite pasta sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
- 1/2 cup your favourite extra garlic Caesar salad dressing (I prefer Renee’s Mighty Caesar)
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
In a large pot of salted water, cook the rotini as per the directions on the box. I love using Catelli Smart pasta because it has the added fibre that helps me keep my blood glucose levels from spiking, but it looks and tastes like traditional pasta. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in an oven-proof Dutch oven or something similar. Add the ground beef, onion, Italian seasoning and pepper and brown over medium-high heat. Once the ground beef is fully cooked, add in the pasta sauce along with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low, and when the pasta is cooked and drained, fold it into the sauce. Spoon the Caesar dressing over the pasta and spread it to make a thin layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top of the Caesar dressing and sprinkle with the dried parsley. Pop under preheated broiler (550 degrees) for 5 – 6 minutes, keeping a close eye, brown can closely turn to burnt and smoke alarms when cheese is concerned.
The Caesar salad dressing is the surprise ingredient that moved this recipe into our family favourites pile. Not only does it add the garlic zing we all love, but the touch of creaminess adds a comfort feeling to an otherwise everyday casserole. I hope you love it as much as we do.
Enjoy! I’d love for you to share with me your favourite comforting pasta meals. Leave a comment here or even better, share a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the #CatelliFamilies hashtag and I’ll be sure to see it. Need some more inspiration? There’s oodles of it at Catelli.ca.
Disclosure: I am part of the #CatelliFamilies network and have been compensated for developing this recipe/blog post, however all opinions expressed are my own.