With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I would share a couple of recipes over the next week or so that can make for a special dinner at home. Let's start with a main course.
Pasta can be quick and easy while also being comforting, homey, and kind of impressive all at the same time. This makes a no fail pasta dish a no brainer for a Valentine's date at home, especially if you decided against getting a babysitter. In my experience, most children enjoy pasta, especially when the dish includes lots of melty cheese.
Admittedly, it's not as pretty or impressive as a classic lasagna. However, cavatini makes up for lacking in these areas by being flavor packed and easy to make. I've even managed to make a gluten free version that's quite tasty and has a good texture to it, at least the day its made.
General rule of thumb, don't make any gluten free pasta dish with the intention of having leftovers. It just does not reheat well, becoming either gummy or complete mush upon reheating. Its better to keep portions small enough to be finished in one meal.
1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef
2 Cups Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup Diced Stewed Tomatoes
3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Cups Uncooked Noodles (Any kind)
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1 Tbsp. Basil (Dried)
1 Tbsp. Oregano (Dried)
1 tsp. Cayanne Pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, brown and drain your beef. Add crushed and stewed tomatoes and spices to the skillet along with a cup or so of extra water, mix well, and simmer on low while you begin your noddles.
You can use any kind of short noodles you like. If you have a few partial bags of different types, this works well. In fact, my mother used to use dishes like cavatini to clean out the pantry every month or so, and she would just toss any leftover uncooked pasta into the pot. The different textures can add a bit of interest to the dish, which can be doubly helpful if you have those who are sensory seeking for taste and touch in the house.
Only let the pasta cook until it is just beginning to plump. Drain them and add them to the meat sauce and mix until incorporated. Don't worry, the pasta will continue to cook as it bakes.
If you would like to add any additional vegetables, now is the time to do so. Sliced olives, diced peppers, diced onion, or scallions would all work very well.
Layer the pasta and sauce with the shredded cheese inside a greased casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
Serve with a crisp, green salad, and you have a complete meal for an entire family.
To make this dish fit a gluten free diet, simply use any variety of gluten free pasta, go easy on the precooking, and only make enough for the meal for best taste and texture.
Come back next week for an equally simple but decadent dessert recipe.