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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baked Rotini

Baked Rotini

     So today is my very first real blog post. Please be forgiving as I get used to this. I have decided to make a blog of my recipes since I get many requests for them. One thing you will notice is my recipes very rarely use actual measurements. In my home, I don't usually measure things. My years of experience have boiled my measurements in terms of "enough" and "until its done." I will try to help as much as I can, but for today's recipe, there is no  real measurements. These are the ingredients you will need:

  • Rotini Pasta
  • Can of Spaghetti Sauce
  • Frozen Italian Meatballs
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Cheddar Jack Cheese
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Frozen Sweet Corn
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Casserole dish
  • Aluminum Foil

     Ok a few things I need to clarify before we start. The pasta can be any kind you want, I just like rotinis the best. The provolone and cheddar jack don't have to be any special brand, but I would suggest a mid grade to high grade for better tasting. However, for the Monterey Jack I ALWAYS use Tillamook cheese, there is honestly no substitute. It truly makes the dish.

To begin, I used to call this dish "Lazy Man Lasagna" but when I was trying to put together an actual recipe for it, it became apparent that Lasagna is probably easier to make. 

     Your first step is going to be to defrost the meatballs and cut them in half.  Spoon out a little bit of your sauce onto the bottom of the dish. Put the meatballs on top of this very thin layer of sauce.

Take some of your FROZEN corn (yes still frozen) and sprinkle some out with the meatballs.

Sprinkle on the Parmesan Cheese.

Spoon on a little more sauce.

Now is the time you start your pasta cooking on the stove. You are only going to cook it to a little bit under al dente. This means it is going to be firm but still a little too chewy to actually eat, about 5 minutes in full boiling water is all you need. If you start the pasta cooking before you start the layering, then the pasta will overcook while sitting in the colander waiting for you to use it. It is better to layer the pasta in while it is still hot.

This is when you will put on your first layer of pasta. If you are using rotini like I did here, you will only need to do one noodle deep. 

Next up comes the Provolone cheese. I went to the supermarket and got mine shredded. This is very difficult to find and trust me, if you don't go to the right market, the lady at the counter will look at you like you are insane looking for shredded provolone. I have done this recipe with the sliced, and it works ok, but the cheese doesn't melt as well if you do, so I fully suggest getting the freshly shredded kind.

Well I think you know what is next. That's right! More Sauce!

Next up, in case you couldn't tell, is more corn or whatever veggie you chose. My mom likes to make it with zucchini chunks but I like the sweet corn since it helps cook the pasta better.

This is the odd step. Now you take a spoon and smooth out your sauce, corn and cheese. This helps make sure that the sauce gets to the sides, and into the pasta.

Next, use a little bit more of the pasta. Just enough to almost reach the top of the casserole dish.

Here comes more cheese! First sprinkle on your cheddar jack. The order of this is mostly for aesthetics, I like the looks of the white cheese on top better.

and of course the TILLAMOOK Monterey Jack cheese. 

Here is the aluminum foil. If the cheese touches the foil, I suggest spraying some pam on the foil before putting it on. I have heard and seen many people use the toothpick method but it just pierces the foil, and I didn't really want it aerated. Now bake at 350 degrees UNTIL IT IS DONE! If you have a clear or clearish casserole dish, you will be able to see through the side if it is boiling or not. If it is, check the pasta and cheese. This is an extremely easy recipe, you will know if it is done. Depending on different ovens and circumstances I have seen this recipe take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in the oven. The hour was with two dishes cooking though, so I would expect somewhere in the 30 minute range.

This is what it looks like when it is done. 


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