Friday, February 22, 2008

Baked Rigatoni

Although I was craving Indian cuisine last evening, I finally decided to make a pan of Baked Rigatoni for dinner.

Jack had spent the afternoon at meetings, then went to the grocery store on his way home and braved the crowds (which the local media had whipped into a frenzy with warnings about an impending winter storm). He arrived home late and tired. Baked pasta with a sausage-spiced red sauce seemed to be appropriate, especially since I had been thawing 2 loaves of frozen whole wheat bread dough and the oven would already be on to bake these.

A note on the bread. I make a tried-and-true recipe for five-grain bread, two loaves every other week, and I haven’t bought sandwich bread (except while on vacation) for years. Before Christmas I was at the grocery store and decided that, after the subsequent stops which I needed to make, I would be home too late to make the dough for the pizza which I had planned for dinner that evening. I have tried the prebaked crusts (Boboli) and they seem too “bready”. Not really a word, I know, but an apt description. I was looking at frozen pizzas, immediately counting them out as I read the nutrition labels, when I saw whole wheat frozen bread dough. I bought a package of 3 loaves, took one from the bag and placed it in a plastic bag from the produce department, stored the other two in the cooler against a block of ice. The single loaf was placed on the back seat where it thawed for a couple of hours and, by the time I arrived home, just needed 45 minutes to rise and was ready to use.

For all of the forethought and preparation I did to transform this bread dough into a pizza dough, it was not very good. The crust turned out to be too much like thin bread than crust. So the other 2 loaves sat in the deep freeze until I broke my ankle and we ran out of the five-grain. I was surprised at how good this was (of course, baked as a loaf of bread rather than a pizza crust). It is lighter than the five-grain which I make, and we do enjoy dense breads, but quite suitable for the situation which I am in (the very-little-baking situation).

I had Jack buy another bag of whole wheat frozen bread dough last week and this is what I will probably use until I am in the kitchen, unencumbered by crutches, once again.

So much for the “plug” for frozen bread dough (to make bread, of course). Back to dinner.

I will not turn on the oven to bake anything for less than 30 minutes. It’s quite an arbitrary limit, one which I gave myself. I simply feel that the energy needed to preheat the oven would be a waste if I kept it going for less time. Therefore, if I want to bake something in the oven for dinner which requires less than a half-hour baking time, I make something else.

This recipe for baked rigatoni is very quick and basic, and one which Jack loves. I tried to keep the fat content down through the use of turkey Italian sausage and part-skim mozzarella. I’ve also found that Parmeginio Reggiano cheese, while twice as expensive as regular ol’ Parmesan, adds the same amount of flavor while using less that most other grating cheeses. Using whole wheat pasta really bumps up the nutrition quotient of the dish (I used the 365 Organic brand from Whole Foods). As usually is the case, it was after the pasta was in the oven that I thought of another way to add flavor and nutrition-- the next time I will add a 10-ounce package of thawed, squeezed-dry frozen spinach to the sauce before the rigatoni is added.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Baked Rigatoni

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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16 ounces whole wheat pasta -- rigatoni, ziti, cavatappi, etc.

16 ounces Italian turkey sausage -- hot, sweet, or a combination

1 cup chopped sweet onion

2 large garlic cloves -- crushed

15 ounces tomato sauce

29 ounces canned crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried basil -- crumbled

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano -- crumbled

2 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook pasta according to package directions and keep warm.

In a large nonstick skillet, crumble and stir the sausage over medium -high heat until broken into small pieces and no longer pink. Add onion and garlic and stir for a few minutes until onion is softened. Stir in the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and herbs/spices and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked pasta and combine well. Coat a 9"x14" baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in about 1/3 of the pasta. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Add another 1/3 pasta, sprinkle with another 3/4 cup of mozzarella, then add the remaining pasta. Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and place back in the oven (uncovered) for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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Per serving: 583 Calories (kcal); 16g Total Fat (7g saturated); (23% calories from fat); 40g Protein; 78g Carbohydrate; 73mg Cholesterol; 1338mg Sodium

I admit that this is not exactly a lowfat recipe and, as you can see by the photo, it isn't exactly swimming in cheese, either (a few recipes I've found have way more cheese, and also ricotta). I was able to do something to lower the fat a little, and this is not indicated in the nutritional information listed above because I have no idea how to go about figuring it out.

When I brown ground turkey or sausage, I always rinse the meat with boiling water, in a colander, after cooking and before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. I have seen various numbers for this, but one that stuck out is that rinsing can remove up to 30% of the fat. If you soak the meat in a bowl of boiling water then drain and rinse it with additional boiling water, it can take that number up to 50%. I did just the rinsing last night, then I chopped the pieces of sausage further than crumbling in the pan could do. This seems to make it appear as though there is more sausage in each bite.

And it's all about appearances, isn't it???

1 Comment:

Jenny said...

I think it looks delicious! It's making me hungry. I really ought to go get lunch.