New Finds


This baked pasta from Mary Berg’s In Mary’s Kitchen was a big hit at our dinner table. While pasta cooks, make a sauce with shallot, garlic, cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka, cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and place the burrata in the centre of the pan. Scatter mozzarella around the edges and top with pesto. Bake for 20 minutes and serve topped with fresh basil.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only milk or cream, no colour. No-Name tomato paste and mozzarella are additive-free. Genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano is additive-free; check for the name stamped on the rind. Make sure the burrata does not contain preservatives. Store-bought pesto can contain additives. You can make your own with basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and oil.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce

Add cooked pasta to sauce

Top with burrata, mozzarella and pesto

Bake until golden brown

Ingredients:

1 lb (454 g) rigatoni

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons (45 ml) unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely minced

Freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 cup (250 ml) cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (5 oz/156ml) can tomato paste

¼ cup (60 ml) vodka

½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream

½ cup (125 ml) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 ball burrata

1 cup (250 ml) grated mozzarella cheese

4-6 heaped tbsp (60-90 ml) basil pesto

3 tablespoons (45 ml) roughly chopped basil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 F (204 C).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season well with salt and add in the pasta to cook according to package directions just until al dente. Reserve 1 cup (250 ml) of pasta water and drain.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a large, oven-safe high sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add in the shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until lightly golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes and tomato paste and seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes to allow the cherry tomatoes to cook down and to further intensify the tomato flavour.

Carefully deglaze the pan with the vodka and allow it to bubble away for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol then turn the heat down to low and stir in the whipping cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add in the pasta as well as ½ cup (125 ml) of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine, adding more of the pasta water if needed to reach a saucy consistency. Gently tear the burrata open and set in the centre of the pasta. Scatter the mozzarella around the edge to cover the rest of the pasta and top with pesto

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. If desired, turn the broiler to high for the last minute of cooking for a deeper golden-brown colour. Allow the pasta to cool for 5 minutes before serving, scattered with basil. Serves 4.

From In Mary’s Kitchen

This recipe from Serious Eats uses bread as a base for pizza. Heat butter, oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir in basil and parsley. Brush half of the mixture on the bread. Add tomatoes and spices to the remaining butter mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on the bread and bake for about eight minutes. Spread the bread with the sauce, sprinkle with more cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and herbs before serving.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only milk or cream, no colour. Check the dried spices for colour and anti-caking agents. I used Ace Bakery Italian bread, Unico crushed tomatoes and No-Name mozzarella. Genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano contains no additives; look for the name stamped on the rind.

Sprinkle mozzarella on bread brushed with butter-herb mixture

Make the sauce while the bread bakes

Top with sauce and more cheese, bake and sprinkle with herbs before serving

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons (45 g) unsalted butter

4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) dried oregano

¼ cup (60 ml) minced fresh parsley or basil leaves, or a mix

Kosher salt

1 large loaf French or Italian bread, about 18 inches (45 cm) long and 4 inches (10 cm) wide, split half lengthwise and crosswise

1 (14.5-ounce/400g) can crushed tomatoes

8 ounces (225 g) freshly grated whole milk mozzarella cheese

2 ounces (60 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparation:

Adjust oven rack to upper position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Heat butter and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of parsley/basil and a big pinch of salt. Remove from heat.

Place bread cut-side-up on a clean work surface. Using a rimmed baking sheet, press down on bread evenly until compressed to about two-thirds of its original height. Place bread on top of rimmed baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush half of garlic/butter/oil mixture evenly over cut surfaces of bread, making sure to get plenty of bits of garlic and herbs. Set aside.

Add tomatoes to remaining garlic/butter/oil mixture in pan, stir to combine, increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rich and reduced, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

While sauce cooks, spread one-quarter of mozzarella evenly over surface of bread and transfer to oven. Cook until cheese is barely melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until sauce is cooked.

Spread sauce evenly over bread, then spread remaining mozzarella on top of sauce. Transfer to oven and bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, remaining parsley/basil, and remaining tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Allow to cool slightly and serve. Serves 3-4.

From Serious Eats

This quick and easy recipe from In Mary’s Kitchen is great for a weeknight supper or casual dinner party. Combine minced sun-dried tomatoes and tarragon with softened butter, salt and pepper. Place the fish on a baking sheet and spread the butter over the fish. Add cherry tomatoes and lemon quarters to the pan. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only cream or milk, with no colour added. Savor brand oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes are additive-free.

Spread butter mixture on fish and arrange on sheet pan with tomatoes and lemon

Roast until fish is cooked through

Ingredients:

Olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) sun-dried tomatoes

1 tbsp (15 ml) tarragon or basil, plus more for serving

2 tbsp (30 ml) butter, room temperature

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 rainbow trout fillets

8 oz (227 g) cherry tomatoes

1 lemon, quartered

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C) and drizzle baking sheet with oil.

Finely mince the sun-dried tomatoes and tarragon and add to the butter. Season with salt and pepper and mash together to combine. Dry off the fish with paper towel and place the fillets skin side down onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread the tomato butter over the trout fillets.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan as well as the lemon quarters, cut side down. Drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 15 to 17 minutes or until the trout is flaky and cooked through and the tomatoes are tender and beginning to burst.

To serve, use a fish spatula to lift the trout from the skin and scatter with fresh tarragon and a squeeze of roasted lemon juice. Serves 4.

From In Mary’s Kitchen

This recipe from NYT Cooking cooks mussels with shallots, garlic, wine and a spicy cilantro compound butter. Make the butter, form it into a log and chill while cooking the mussels. Cook the shallot briefly before adding garlic, wine and bringing to a boil. Cook mussels until they open, then add cilantro butter and stir while it melts. Serve with lime wedges and crusty bread.

Make the cilantro butter

Mussels in spicy green broth

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only cream or milk, with no colour added. Check the dried spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used white wine from Ontario’s Frogpond Farm winery that has a sulfite level below 10 parts per million. Ace Bakery baguettes are free of additives.

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons (120 ml) unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons (10 ml) grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander, briefly toasted in a pan

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin, briefly toasted in a pan

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground turmeric

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

1 cup very (250 ml) finely chopped cilantro (from 1 large bunch)

2 serrano chiles, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon (5 ml) lime zest

Kosher salt

4 pounds (1.8 kg) mussels

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

1 large shallot, thinly sliced or finely diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt

1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine

Lime wedges and a crusty baguette, for serving

Preparation:

Make the cilantro butter: Put softened butter in a bowl. Add ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and black pepper. Mash together with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the cilantro and chiles, and mash well, extracting as much green cilantro juice as possible. Stir in lime zest and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) kosher salt. Form the butter into a log, then wrap with waxed paper or film and chill to firm slightly.

As the butter chills, prepare the mussels: In a large bowl, wash mussels in cold water. Pull off any “beards” and discard (also discard any smashed or gaping mussels). Quickly rinse the mussels and set aside.

Put oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallot, season with salt, and let sizzle for a minute without browning. Add garlic and white wine and turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

Add mussels, stir well, and cover. Cook mussels over high heat, stirring once, for 5 to 7 minutes, until all mussels have opened. Turn off heat and leave lid on.

To serve, cut cilantro butter into 1-inch (2.54-cm) chunks and stir into the mussels (4 tablespoons/60 ml is probably enough, but use it all if you wish).

Ladle mussels and broth into heated wide shallow soup bowls. Place a bowl on the table to collect empty shells. Pass lime wedges along with a warm crusty baguette, for sopping up the broth. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This delicious recipe from NYT Cooking is quick and easy. Combine brown sugar and fish sauce to make a caramel sauce. Cook shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chile paste briefly, add the caramel sauce and warm it through. Add the shrimp and cook until they are done and coated with sauce, about three minutes. Serve over rice.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Cock brand fish sauce, Tuttocalabria chile sauce and PC Organics frozen shrimp. All are additive-free.

Cook shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chile paste

Add shrimp and caramel sauce

Spicy caramelized shrimp with lemongrass

Ingredients:

2/3 packed cup (165 ml) light brown sugar

5 tablespoons (75 ml) fish sauce

2 pounds (900 g) peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp, patted dry with paper towels

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) canola oil

2 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings

3 tablespoons (45 ml) finely minced lemongrass (from 2 stalks)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 (2-inch-/5-cm-long) piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

1½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) roasted chile paste or chile-bean sauce

Steamed white rice, for serving

Preparation:

Prepare the caramel sauce: To a heavy medium saucepan, add the light brown sugar and fish sauce and gently heat over medium-low, whisking occasionally, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is syrupy, about 5 minutes. (You should have about ½ cup/125 ml.) Set aside caramel.

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the shrimp with the pepper and set aside.

In a 2-quart (2 L) clay pot or large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the shallots and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chile paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Pour in the caramel sauce and stir until combined and warmed, about 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, just until the shrimp are pink and plump, cooked through and coated with a glossy caramel sauce, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This delicious recipe from NYT Cooking yields succulent chicken and crispy golden rice, all on a single sheet pan. Make a lemon-garlic-ginger-turmeric marinade and set 1 tbsp (15 ml) aside. Use the rest to marinate the chicken for a few minutes while you toss cooked rice with salt, scallions and oil. Spread the rice on the sheet pan and top with the chicken. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. Add lemon juice and oil to the reserved marinade and drizzle onto the rice. Serve topped with more scallions and chopped cilantro. Cook’s note: I substituted long-grain rice for the short-grain rice. If you do the same, watch it carefully as it can brown and dry out more quickly than plumper grains of short-grain rice.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Baking cooked rice on the sheet pan makes it crispy

Garnish with scallions and cilantro

Ingredients:

¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving

6 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh ginger (from 1 2-inch/5-cm piece), finely grated or minced

3 teaspoons (15 ml) kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal or use 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) coarse kosher salt, such as Morton), more as needed

2 teaspoons (10 ml) ground turmeric

2 teaspoons (10 ml) ground coriander

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds (900 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks

5 cups cooked short-grain rice (such as sushi rice)

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

5 tablespoons (75 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

½ cup (125 ml) chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

Preparation:

Place sheet pan on middle rack in oven and heat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C).

While the oven is heating, marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, ginger, 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) of the salt, turmeric, coriander and pepper, and mix well. Transfer 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the turmeric-ginger mixture to a small bowl and set aside for serving. To the large bowl, add chicken and toss until the pieces are well coated; let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, toss the cooked rice with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) salt, scallion whites and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil (the best way to do this is with clean hands). Add a little more oil if needed to fully coat the rice so that it crisps up in the oven.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil to the chicken pieces, tossing well to coat.

Use a large spoon to carefully spread the rice out on the hot sheet pan, then make divots in the rice for the chicken, making sure the sheet pan is exposed. Place chicken, skin side up, in the divots touching the pan. Drizzle the rice and chicken with a little more extra-virgin olive oil.

Roast until the chicken is deeply browned on top, cooked through and the rice is crisp at the edges, 40 to 50 minutes.

Stir a little more lemon juice and olive oil into the reserved turmeric-ginger mixture to thin it out. Use a spoon to dab or drizzle it onto the rice (not the chicken). Stir up the rice on the baking sheet, so the crisp parts get mixed into the soft part of the rice, and the turmeric mixture gets distributed. (Taste rice and add a little more oil, lemon juice and salt if necessary; rice can take a lot of seasoning.) Top everything with scallion greens and chopped fresh cilantro and serve. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This NYT Cooking take on classic carbonara substitutes orzo for spaghetti and the finished dish resembles risotto. Brown guanciale, pancetta or bacon and set aside. Stir the dry orzo into the fat, add stock and simmer. Once the liquid is mostly absorbed by the pasta, remove from heat and stir in cheese and eggs. Serve sprinkled with more cheese, pepper and reserved bacon.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Free From bacon and Better Than Bouillon to make the stock. Use genuine Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, which do not contain colour or preservatives.

Cook bacon and set aside

This preparation is similar to risotto

Orzotto Alla Carbonara

Ingredients:

3 ½ ounces (100 g) guanciale, pancetta or thick-cut bacon, cut into small dice (2/3 cup/165 ml)

1 ¼ cups/about 9 ounces (312 ml/255 g) dry orzo

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups (750 ml) low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed

6 tablespoons (90 ml) finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus more for serving

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

Preparation:

Add the guanciale to a large, high-sided skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned and crispy all over, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the guanciale to a small dish. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the fat from the skillet; reserve the extra fat for another use.

Stir the orzo into the fat in the skillet until coated, then season with salt and pepper. Stir constantly for just a few seconds, then add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet, until the orzo is tender and loose like risotto, adding more broth as needed, 7 to 9 minutes. At this point, the pasta should have absorbed most of the liquid.

Take the skillet off the heat and vigorously stir in 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of the pecorino. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and yolks. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pecorino and ¼ cup (60 ml) of the orzo to temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling when added to the skillet. Stir this mixture into the hot orzo, then immediately shake the skillet with one hand and stir with the other until the orzo is creamy and thick, about 1 minute.

Taste and add salt as desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with more pecorino, black pepper and the reserved guanciale. Serves 2-4.

From NYT Cooking

This paneer recipe from NYT Cooking is a great vegetarian main dish. Marinate paneer, peppers and onion and then bake on a sheet pan for about 8 minutes. Brush with melted butter and broil a few minutes to brown the paneer. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with flatbread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Tre Stella paneer and Astro Balkan-style yogurt are additive-free. Check the dried spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Use freshly grated ginger and garlic. Look for butter that contains only cream and use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Sheet-pan paneer tikka

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds (680 g) paneer (fresh or store-bought), cut into 1-inch (2.54-cm) cubes

3 tablespoons (45 ml) neutral oil

3 tablespoons (45 ml) full-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) ginger paste or finely grated ginger (from about a 2 inch piece)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) garlic paste or finely grated garlic (from about 6 cloves)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) coriander powder

1 tablespoon (15 ml) garam masala

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Kashmiri or other red chile powder

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) turmeric powder

Salt

2 medium bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1-inch (2.54-cm) pieces

1 medium red onion, quartered and each quarter cut into halves

2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted ghee or butter for basting

½ lemon, juiced (about 4 teaspoons/20 ml)

Roti and chutney, for serving (optional)

Preparation:

If using store-bought paneer, soak it in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Arrange one oven rack in the center of the oven and a second one closest to the broiler heating element. Heat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C). Line a large sheet pan with foil and brush it with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the rest of the oil with yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander powder, garam masala, red chile powder, turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt to make the marinade.

Add paneer, bell peppers and onion to the bowl with the marinade and mix until evenly coated. (If you have the time, marinate the paneer and vegetables for 20 minutes and up to 2 hours for even more flavour.)

On the prepared sheet pan, evenly spread out the marinated paneer and vegetables, and bake on the middle oven rack until the paneer edges start to turn golden, about 8 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and brush the paneer with melted ghee. Turn the oven to broil, place the paneer and vegetables on the top rack and broil on high until the paneer turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Take the paneer and vegetables out of the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice and additional salt, if desired. Serve with roti and chutney or by itself. Serves 4-6.

From NYT Cooking

This recipe from Canadian Living is quick, spicy and delicious. Make chicken meatballs and bake. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, ginger and spices in melted butter. Add cream, broth and passata and bring to a boil. Add cooked meatballs to sauce and cook for a few minutes to heat them through. Serve with chopped cilantro and naan bread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Use butter that contains only cream, no colour. I used Better Than Bouillon for the stock, Paese Mio passata and Suraj naan—all are additive-free.

Bake the chicken meatballs

Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce to heat through

Serve meatballs and sauce with rice and naan

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1 lb (454 g) ground chicken

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp (5 ml) chili powder

Salt and pepper

Sauce

3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter or ghee

½ small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh ginger

1 tbsp (15 ml) curry powder

1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) ground cumin

1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander

½ tsp (2.5 ml) chili powder

1 ¼ cup (312 ml) 35% whipping cream

1/3 cup (83 ml) chicken broth

1 cup (250 ml) passata

Salt and pepper

Chopped fresh cilantro

Naan bread (optional)

Preparation:

Meatballs

Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In bowl, mix chicken with garlic, ginger and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Using hands, form 12 meatballs; place 2 inches (5 cm) apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are cooked, about 15-20 minutes.

Sauce

Meanwhile, in nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add curry powder, cumin, coriander and chili powder; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Stir in cream, broth and passata. Bring to boil; cook, stirring often, until sauce has thickened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes Add meatballs; cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with naan bread if desired. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This delicious recipe from NYT Cooking is a hearty one-pot meal that is ready in less than an hour. Brown sausage meat, add tomatoes and simmer. Add dry pasta, water and fresh mozzarella. Top with more mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan. Bake for about 25 minutes, run under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the cheese, top with fresh basil and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Free From hot Italian sausages, Blue Menu whole tomatoes, Mutti strained tomatoes and Tre Stelle mozzarella and ricotta. All are additive-free. Check the dried spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Genuine Parmesan is free of additives – look for the name stamped on the rind.

Brown the sausage meat

Stir in tomatoes and bay leaves

Stir in pasta and water, fold in mozzarella, top with remaining mozzarella, the ricotta and Parmesan and bake

Broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese, top with fresh basil and serve

Ingredients:

¾ pound (340 g) bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) fennel seeds, coarsely crushed

Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)

1 (28-ounce/796-ml) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices

1 (14-ounce/398 ml) can crushed or strained tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

12 ounces (340 g) dried pasta, such as small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta

8 ounces (227 g) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces (170 g) whole-milk ricotta (about ¾ cup/180 ml)

⅓ cup (83 ml) grated Parmesan

¼ cup (60 ml) basil leaves

Black pepper, for serving

Preparation:

Heat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Heat oil in a 12-inch (30-cm) ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Crumble sausage into skillet, using a spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes (if using), and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in whole tomatoes and their juice, using a spoon to break them up. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Stir in pasta and 1 cup (250 ml) water and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, pluck out the bay leaves, and fold in about a third of the mozzarella.

Top pasta with remaining mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then transfer to oven. Bake until pasta is tender when poked with a fork, and cheese is bubbly and lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes. (If you’d like a more deeply browned topping, run the pan under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Top with basil, plenty of black pepper, and more red-pepper flakes, if you like. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

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