Baked pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella

Posted: February 8, 2009 by nietize in Italian, Pasta
From Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy

Ingredients:

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 or 2 dried red chilies, crumbled
1/5 kg/3-1/4 lb ripe tomatoes or 3 (400 g) cans of good quality plum tomatoes
a large handful of fresh basil leaves
1 T red wine vinegar (optional)
400 g/14 oz dried orecchiette (little ears) or other similar pasta
4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 -150 g balls of fresh mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 400F and pit a large pot of salted water on to boil.

To an appropriately sized pan add a couple of glugs of good quality extra virgin olive oil, your onion, and chili and slowly saute for about 10 minutes on a medium to low heat until softened but without any colour.

If you’re using fresh tomatoes, remove the core with the tip of a small knife, plunge them into the boiling water for about 40 seconds until their skins start to come away, then remove with a slotted spoon or sieve and remove then pan from the heat. Put the tomatoes into a bowl and run cold water over them, then slide the skins off, squeeze out the pips and roughly chop. 

Add your fresh or tinned tomatoes to the onion and garlic, with a small glass of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Now put the tomatoes through a food processor or liquidizer to make a loose sauce.

Tear your basil leaves into the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper and a little swig of red wine vinegar.

When the liquidized sauce tastes perfect, bring the water back to a boil. Add the orecchiette to the water and cook according to the packet directions, then drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan.

Get yourself an appropriately sized baking dish, pan or earthenware dish and rub it with a little oil. Layer a little pasta in the tray, followed by some tomato sauce, and a handful of grated Parmesan and 1 sliced-up mozzarella ball, then repeat the layers until you’ve used all the ingredients, ending with a good layer of cheese on top.

Pop it into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden, crisp and bubbling.

Italians seem happy to eat this dish at room temperature or quite cold, but I (Jamie Oliver) prefers to eat it hot.

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