Jul 12 08
by cara
at 8:34 AM
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Ricotta Pasta Casserole

This recipe is based loosely on Emeril’s recipe for Penne a La Vodka Casserole.  Emeril’s recipe includes hot Italian sausage, and if you like Italian sausage, this is a great recipe (with or without the vodka).  Although we enjoyed Emeril’s original recipe, The Picky Apple and I aren’t big fans of Italian sausage.  This time around I deviated from the original recipe quite a bit, using ground beef instead of Italian sausage, omitting the vodka, using farfalle instead of penne, and changing the topping.

Ricotta Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 (24 oz) jar of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Essence
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound pasta (penne, farfalle, or similar size)
  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Parmesean
  • 1/2 cup Romano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes; reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the Essence and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmesan with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and Romano. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven.

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