September 6, 2013

Cheesiest Cottage Cheese Baked Rigatoni

Oh, hi there. Have you noticed the weather cooling down?
Each day this week a breezy, cool evening sinks into a downright chilly night, which blooms into a crisp, sunny morning.
I have to put my sweater on to walk the dog. It's delicious.

I get excited in my bones for the change of the seasons. I'm sure you do, too.
And I get all giddy at the thought of piping-hot comfort food dinners. Like this one.
Don't call it low-fat, that's a term that makes me say, "boo, no flavor." It's got the hiss of that word "insipid." Call it lusciously sensible. There's no sacrifices here, and due to pureeing the cottage cheese into a ricotta-like texture, you don't even have to mention that you used the cheese that comes with a bland, bad rap and usually gets a boost from an odd pairing with pineapple.
Nope, let's just not mention it. Except for putting it smack in the recipe's title.

Your ooey, gooey secret's safe with me.

Cheesiest Cottage Cheese Baked Rigatoniserves 6-8

First, prepare the sauce. Of course, you can always use a quality jarred:
Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 a largely diced red onion. Saute until slightly golden, 5-6 minutes, then add 6 cloves minced garlic and stir. Push onions and garlic to the sides to make a clearing in the middle of the pan, and add a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste. Caramelize the paste a minute, then add 1 t. dried basil, 1/2 t. dried oregano, 2 t. kosher salt, and 1 t. dried red pepper flakes. Stir, then add 1/4 cup red wine, 2 t. white sugar, and 1 28-oz. can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes w/basil. Simmer 1 hour on low, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/4 cup pasta water after cooking to thin it out a little bit, and season with salt + pepper to taste.

Then, boil 1 lb. rigatoni to very al-dente, about 4 minutes less than the suggested time on the bag. Drain. Meanwhile, prepare the cottage cheese "ricotta":

Cottage Cheese Ricotta: Food process together 1 16-oz container lowfat cottage cheese, 2 large eggs, a pinch nutmeg, generous pinches of dried basil, salt, pepper, and 3 T. grated parmesan cheese.

Shred: 1/2 lb mozarella cheese and 1/2 lb fontina cheese
Have some torn fresh basil on hand, too!

Once you've got all of the above on hand, coat an 8X8 inch baking dish with oil. Add a few scoops of red sauce to bottom of dish and spread. Add 1/3 of the pasta, 1/3 white sauce, and 1/3 shredded cheese. Repeat this, ending with a last layer of white sauce topped with shredded cheese and fresh basil. Spray top generously with cooking spray and bake 375 degrees covered with non-stick coated tin foil, then uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Enjoy!

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