Summer means good tomatoes, and lots of them. Fall, for me at least, means comfort food — nice, cheesy gooey casseroles that bake in the oven for a while because it’s no longer too darn hot for that sort of thing.
Today was definitely a summer-meets-fall kind of day. There was a chill in the air in the morning, but it warmed up nicely by the afternoon. We have a ton of tomatoes around here (including plenty from our own plants) that need to be put to good use, so… time to make a sauce! I decided to go with puttanesca sauce, which is one of my favorites, and since it was feeling quite fall-ish (and since I had plenty of mozzarella in the fridge), I made it into a pasta bake.
It was good stuff. Perfect for enjoying this evening, when the air yet again had a little chill in it… but not enough to keep us from eating outside! That said, it was a little hard to peel tomatoes and make them into a proper sauce with a clingy teething baby tethered to my hip, but I managed. Hopefully this weekend I will have time to sauce and can the rest of those tomatoes, so next time I can just open a jar instead!
Pasta Bake with Puttanesca Sauce
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled*, cored, seeded and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
3 Tbsp. capers
8 oz. rotini pasta (I like to use whole wheat)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and stir briefly. Add the olives and oregano and stir for a minute or so more, and then add in the tomatoes. Stir well and simmer until the sauce is reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Add the parsley and capers and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving a little of the pasta water.
Mix the pasta and sauce in a casserole dish with a bit of the pasta water. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!
* To peel tomatoes, cut a shallow X in the bottom of each tomato, drop it in simmering water and simmer for 30-60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of ice water to cool. Remove from water and the skin should peel off easily.