Have I ever mentioned my love for Rachael Ray?
She taught me how to cook, and for that I am forever grateful.
This is one of the first of her recipes that I made, and years later, it is still one of our favorite go to dinners.
And simple? This one couldn't be simpler.
Look. I'll show ya.
Mix the cooked pasta and the sauce. (I use fresh basil and oregano when I have it, but dried will do.)
Then you spoon the bechamel sauce over the pasta. Lookin' good...lookin' good.
One of my favorite parts is the parmesan cheese.
And don't get me started on the combination of parmesan and mozzarella. Talk about yum.
Then you throw it all under the broiler and in a couple minutes...out comes heaven.
Are ya hungry yet? I am.
Look out... you won't be happy with your local Italian restaurant anymore after this.
Adapted from Rachael Ray
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons dried basil, or a handful of fresh, torn
1 pound penne rigate (or any other tubular pasta with lines)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
A pinch of nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
½ cup to 1 cup parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella
Put pasta water on to boil.
Add olive oil and garlic to a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Saute garlic in olive oil for about one minute. Add crushed and diced tomatoes, oregano and basil and let simmer 10 minutes.
Once pasta water reaches a boil, generously salt water and add pasta. Cook pasta to al dente.
To make the bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a second small sauce pot over low heat. Once butter has melted add flour, stir the two together real well, and cook one minute more. Season flour mixture with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to incorporate. Add enough milk to cover the bottom of the pot and gently whisk until flour mixture is incorporated into milk (this will help prevent a lumpy mess to whisk out in the next step). Then add the rest of the milk and simmer on low until it thickens. Once thick, remove from heat.
Once pasta is done, drain and put back into pasta pot. Add tomato sauce to pasta and mix until the sauce and pasta are evenly incorporated. Empty pasta into a lasagna or other large baking dish. Spoon bechamel sauce evenly over top of pasta. Sprinkle parmesan over top of bechamel sauce, and then sprinkle mozzarella over parmesan.
Place pasta under a broiler until cheeses are melted, 3 to 5 minutes. (Be careful!!! I don't know about you, but the broiler and I are not friends.)
Serve immediately with crusty bread.