Monday, October 24, 2011

Baked "Skillet" Pasta

I've been watching a lot of America's Test Kitchen lately.  Does anyone else love that show?  I trust them because I know they've tested each recipe with different iterations dozens of times, and they're so nerdy and cute.

The other day they had this recipe for baked pasta, but a super simplified version that is mostly cooked on the stovetop and then finished off in the oven.  So while you do end up using two major kitchen appliances, the ease of this recipe reigns supreme.  You do not have to cook the pasta separately and then add it to the sauce, which in my mind translates to "this recipe is heaven".

In the interest of full disclosure, I am still trying to figure out the right amount of water to add to this recipe.  The original made this in a skillet and used 12 oz of pasta, whereas most boxes of pasta are 16 oz.  I don't know what to do with 4 oz of leftover pasta, so I used the full 16 oz and made this in a deep saute pan.  The original recipe calls for 3 cups of water for 12 oz of pasta, so you would think that 4 cups of water would be the right amount, but it seemed like a *lot* of water so I lowered the amount to 3 1/2 cups.  That seemed to be fine, maybe still a wee bit on the soft side (the pasta, that is), so I may tinker next time.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 TBS tomato paste (I did not use tomato paste the first time I made this, but I will next time to up the tomato flavor)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 16 ounces ziti or penne
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or parsley)
  • 4 to 6 ounces mozzarella, shredded

Serves about 6.

Muster your troops. 

Heat oil in an ovenproof deep saute pan (about 4 quarts) over medium high heat and toss in garlic and red pepper flakes.

Cook for about 2 minutes, until garlic is softened, and pour in tomatoes.  Forget to take a picture.

Add in raw pasta and water, with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Your pasta will be swimming.  That is okay.

Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer and cover.  Let simmer for about 13 minutes.

While the pasta is simmering, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  After the 13 minutes (the pasta is almost but not completely cooked), toss in the cream, parmesan, and basil.

Scatter mozzarella over the top of the pasta.

Place saute pan, uncovered, into oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or the cheese is golden brown.

Does that not scream comfort food to you?



  1. That looks AMAZING! I want to eat that whole bowl! Yum! And so easy.

  2. I have so many America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, it's a bit embarrassing. Maybe it's the scientist in me that loves how much they test each variable in the recipe! This looks delicious...

  3. that looks perfect the way it is. who needs ATK when we have you?

  4. That looks delicious. I would have never thought of throwing a whole pan in the oven..maybe I should upgrade from mine with cheap plastic handles....

  5. That looks SO good. Damn my lactose intolerance!

  6. It sounds easy enough and looks tasty enough. YUM.

  7. That looks delicious. I am on the hunt for pasta recipes that my husband will eat (he usually hates pasta) and this might do the trick! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. I made this again tonight and it has officially became our 'go to' weeknight pasta dish. when I say 'our' I mean 'my' because 'I' am the one who is cooking.

    I didn't use tomato paste, but then again I am able to use fabulous tomatoes OH WAIT you're on the cold snowy east coast aren't you.

  9. Mmmmm, carbs with cheese on top? Sign me UP.

  10. Oh my goodness, that looks absolutely delish!

  11. oh yummy. I made a version of this before but with Prego sauce. This one's much more authentic. Will definitely try one day.

  12. I need this in my tummy immediately!

  13. i hope some of you get to make this!

    megan: i bet it is the scientist and baker in you!

    justaddshoes: boo on lactose intolerance! you could leave out the cream and then maybe use a dairy substitute for the topping?

    bonnie joy: oh good, i hope he likes it!

    sashacleo: i just made this again last night. i will ignore the snarky part of your comment.

    sanjoselove: nothing wrong with a little help from prego!

    penga: the ovenproof skillet/saute pan has definitely come in handy, you should go for it!