food: Gluten Free Baked Penne

Something I threw together last night because Fuss requested, out of the blue, that we "make Mama a special dinner."  Running a quick mental inventory of the pantry I listed some options and he chose baked pasta.  It turned out so well I'm sharing the recipe.  If you're in a hurry you can use store bought sauce, but this one is dirt simple and aside from chopping a few cloves of garlic doesn't take much longer than opening a jar.  And its flexible- I made a small portion for Fuss with nothing but pasta, sauce & cheese and it turned out fine.  Sub in your own cheeses, meats, veggies (zucchini works well), whaterver.  And if you aren't worried about gluten just make it with regular ol' wheat pasta.

Gluten Free Baked Penne

1 package brown rice penne pasta (I used Trader Joes, which is cheap & good)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves minced garlic (or to taste)
2tb fresh basil or oregano, chopped, or 3/4 tsp dried.
2tb olive oil, + more for greasing baking dish
1 ball mozzarella, grated
3 oz crumbled gorgonzola
2-3 pre-cooked sausages, sliced thin-ish (used Aidell's Italian chicken sausages- cooking real ones would generate more flavor at the cost of another step and more time)

Preheat oven to 375.
Start boiling the water while you make the sauce- everything ought to be ready for the pan at roughly the same time.

For the sauce:
Mince garlic while heating olive oil in large skillet over medium-low heat.  Fry garlic in oil just short of browning, about a minute.  Dump in crushed tomatoes & increase heat to medium-high, adding a little red wine if you have an open bottle (as I did).  Simmer until thickened, about ten minutes.  Add in chopped herb (I used oregano because that's what I had, basil is also great) & season with salt to taste, cook another minute or two then remove from heat.

When the water boils salt well (a big palm-full) & add pasta.  Brown rice pasta is trickier than wheat pasta- if you overcook it it turns into phlegm.  I cooked it about six minutes, until just underdone, then drained & returned to the pot.  Dump in the completed sauce & mix well.

Grab a baking dish- I used a square 10" Pyrex, which doesn't quite hold everything.  Grease well with olive oil & spoon in a layer of pasta.  Add layer of sausage rounds, cover with mozzarella, sprinkle the crumbled Gorgonzola, then cover with another layer of pasta.  Cover with the rest of the mozzarella, grate on a little fresh Parmesan if you have it handy, and it's ready for the oven.

I like a brown, bubbly top so I bake for 15-20 minutes, until the smell starts filling up the house, then turn the broiler on 'high' and watch it like a hawk- the window between pleasantly browned & blackened to a crisp is a small one.

Remove from oven, let rest on the counter for a few minutes then serve.

Which all sounds more complicated than it is- it's about fifteen minutes of hands on prep, then a wait while it bakes. Super simple, very tasty.

And it garnered The (gluten intolerant) Wife's highest compliment:  "It didn't make my stomach hurt!"

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