Italian Baked Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz whole wheat noodles (measure dry, then cook)
  • 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 3 Boca Grilled Vegetable meatless burgers, heated and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 14 oz crushed (or pureed) tomatoes
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 25-30 fresh basil leaves, gently torn into small pieces
  • Optional: Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray a 9×7” pan with non-stick spray; set aside.
  • Boil the noodles until cooked al dente; drain. Set aside.
  • In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 1-2 minutes, until it begins to become fragrant and slightly translucent. Add the mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms become slightly soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Then add the chopped burgers, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes, and stir well. Reduce the heat to very low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta to the skillet, and toss with the sauce.
  • Fold in the mozzarella and basil until evenly distributed.
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with tin foil, and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.
  • Let stand a few minutes before serving. Top individual servings with grated Parmesan if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (approximates, does not include Parmesan):
195 calories, 6 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 13 g protein.

My notes:

  • Gently tear the basil – don’t cut it. Cutting basil bruises it.
  • Fresh basil smells wonderful; as you are handling it (and making the meal as a whole), savor all of the wonderful aromas and sensations.
  • Vegetarian sausage can be used in place of the Boca burgers. (I would have preferred to use sausage, but my store was out of it – and I didn’t want to drive across town to the specialty store.)

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Medium
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Medium-low
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Medium-low
Time Cost (recipe preparation): Low
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Medium-low
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 3

The Bottom Line: Will I make this recipe again?

I was disappointed by this meal. The dish smelled so wonderful as I was preparing it – the onions cooking, the garlic and red pepper flakes warming, the freshness and brightness of the basil… I was expecting it all to taste amazing! I used fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, high-quality crushed tomatoes and portabella mushrooms – I was expecting terrific goodness. Instead, once removed from the oven, the food tasted very, very bland. I didn’t taste the basil or mozzarella at all; and I didn’t even get any sense of sharpness from the garlic, nor did I get any heat from the red pepper flakes. All I got was a lot of wheat taste, and a small amount of mushroom-and-tomato flavor – that’s all. The texture to the dish was great – toothy, hearty, full – but the taste was just absent.

I tried adding a bit of Parmesan cheese on a few bites, but then all I tasted was Parmesan – and wheat (and a weak mushroom/tomato combination). I then tried a bit of salt and pepper on some other bites, but with that all I tasted was salt and pepper – and wheat (and faint mushroom/tomato).

Bummer. I had high hopes for this recipe; I wish the flavor would have matched the texture. Alas, it just didn’t. Bummer.

Stef

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
This entry was posted in casserole, italian, mushrooms, noodles, postaweek2011, tomatoes, vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Italian Baked Pasta

  1. Katrina Kneeskern says:

    sounds wonderful! Next time for more flavor you could try extra lean ground turkey, adding, cayanne, oinion powser and garlic powder to meat as you’re cooking, some times a little red wine also adds yumminess! Also adding a little sea salt (or onion and garlic salt) to entire dish will always add a little flavor, and you can experiment with hot sauce or chili sauce as well to add heat:) It sounds and looks wonderful though!, Maybe sprinkle a little oregeno as well to make more Italian savor!

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Katrina, thanks for the suggestions. I thought the actual onion, garlic and red pepper flakes would add enough “oomph” to the dish that I wouldn’t need extra seasoning on powder form. :) Yes, oregano is always an option; I was just hoping the basil and mozzarella would come through more. Alas, this is what happens with experimentation; sometimes they work well, and sometimes not so much.

      At any rate, thanks for stopping by, and for commenting! It’s great to hear from you. :)

      Like

  2. Hi
    I hate it when you try a recipe and then once cooked the taste is disapointing. I’m not a veggie so I would replace the veggie burger with left over cooked chicken and maybe replace the basil with oregano. I still might give it a go…

    Like

  3. Sounds like a disappointing Sunday lunch. :(
    On the bright side, the process of putting it together sounded like fun. :)

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Yes, the delight in the process nearly compensated for the disappointment in the final product. Next time I’ll eat my basil, mozzarella, and mushrooms without the extra baggage of pasta and sauce. :)

      Like

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