Rustic Beef and Tomato Pasta Bake
Combining beef with tomato sauce, cheese and Italian seasoning, this casserole makes a lovely weeknight meal. It is really easy to make and you can cook the pasta while you are making the sauce to save time, then combine them, top the mixture with cheese, and bake until done. Ground beef is the best kind to choose for this recipe, but if you only have the higher-fat kind, just drain the excess fat off after cooking and you will end up with the same result.
You can use any kind of tomato sauce for this dish, either a plain one, something with basil, a spicy one, or even a homemade tomato sauce if you prefer. Popping open a jar of sauce is perfect if you want to make this recipe as quick and simple as possible, without losing any of the appeal or flavor, and a lot of home cooks like to keep dried pasta and pasta sauce in the cupboard so they can pull together such a meal whenever they like.
A baked pasta dish always makes a delicious meal. While it is baking you can put together any side dishes. A side dish is not necessary because this meal features pasta, meat and vegetables too (in the form of onion and also tomato sauce) so you could just serve some extra grated cheese to scatter on top. If you do want sides though, consider a simple green salad, or some garlic bread if you do not mind the extra carbs.
- 14 oz penne pasta
- ½ lb extra-lean ground beef
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup tomato pasta sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- Sprigs of basil, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook the pasta following the instructions on the package.
- Drain and transfer it to a baking dish.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over a moderate heat.
- Add the ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Keep cooking and stirring until no pink remains in the beef.
- Stir in the sauce and cook for 6 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of water if you find the sauce too dry.
- Combine the pasta with the sauce in the baking dish.
- Scatter cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Garnish with basil and serve.
Cheese-topped beef and tomato pasta is baked in the oven until it is piping hot. The cheese is allowed to melt on top and form a golden brown crust. All you need to do is add a couple of sprigs of basil, like in the photo, and this is all ready to serve. Use an attractive baking dish and you can bring this to the table from the oven. Baked pasta is one of the first dishes a lot of home cooks learn to make, and when it can be as simple as tossing cooked pasta with sauce and adding some cheese, no wonder it is so popular.
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