Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What You Should Have Eaten #2

Classic Baked Penne Rigate with Garlic Bread and Salad

This is a Saturday meal, so that means cooking, but cheap cooking. This dish was a staple in the Rosenblatt household when my mom was cooking. It’s easy, the prepared amount is massive, and it tastes great as a leftover.

This is something my wife and I liked to fix when having people over, but with some substitutions. First, we’d go a little classier with the brands of spaghetti sauce and cheese used. I’ve got no problem going a bit ghetto when it’s me and the kids, but I’ll treat my guests a little better. I don’t know if that makes me a good host or a bad father. Second, I’d probably serve a nice Pepperidge Farm garlic bread rather than the midget Cole loaf I’m using here. PF has some damn fine garlic bread; this is the first time I’ve tried anything by Cole. Third, yeah, bag salad. Sundays are for intricate dishes. Saturdays are for bag salad.

The drink tonight is an Italian Cherry. Amaretto and cherry brandy. Super sweet and syrupy. Not something I’d recommend unless you happen to like that. I guess it was just a happy accident that I’m drinking a vaguely Italian drink while cooking an Italian dish

Now, onto the meal. You might notice when looking at the instructions that I’ve circled “cooked and drained” and drawn an arrow to the sausage/meat. The first time my wife tried to fix this after we were married, she didn’t realize that the ground beef had to be browned before mixing it in with everything. It still makes me smile.

The major effort in this meal is browning the meat, so that should give you an idea about the ease of it.

Besides tasting great, the amount of food that this makes, and the ease of the recipe, this dish is also extremely versatile. You can replace the ground beef with sausage or chicken, or heck, leave out the meat altogether. You also have an incredible amount of options in the type of sauce and cheese you use. I normally use a multi-cheese blend sauce and a sauce that includes veggies. As far as the cheese is concerned, mozzarella is the go-to cheese for this dish, but there are different Italian blends or other types that you can use.

So, unless you just don't like pasta, this is a perfect dish. If you don't think it's the perfect dish, then you did something wrong. It's your fault; don't blame the recipe for your mistakes.

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