Bobo's Baked Pasta is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods! If you didn't know, BoBo is my mom. Growing up Italian we ate ALOT of pasta! In fact, a holiday meal was not complete without a dish of pasta. My Grandma Simeri makes a mean rigatoni, Grandma Bollero is known for a killer lasagna, my dad makes one helluva fettuccine alfredo, and my my mom makes an oh-so-good baked mostaccioli.
The best and worst thing about Italian cooks is they make their recipes by memory and taste! My dad always says, "Why follow Betty Crocker's recipe... I want to make it the way I like it, not the way Betty Crocker likes it!". I have gotten my parents to write down recipes for me and I do follow them but I always do a taste test at the end and always throw in a pinch of this or that! I can't help it; it is just in my blood!
Making your own sauce is much easier than you may think! The most important thing is time. Just like a chili or a fine wine the longer it sits the better it tastes. I like to do a double batch of sauce and freeze half. It is so nice to be able to pull homemade sauce from the freezer and have a beautiful meal in minutes. If life gets in the way and those jars of sauce in the store are calling your name I won't judge! Just do me a favor, don't skip step 2 and add the Italian sausage, onion, and garlic to the jarred sauce. You will thank yourself later!
BoBo's Baked Pasta
1 lb penne pasta
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb of Italian Sausage
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 c parmesan cheese
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, brown sugar, and all spices
in large sauce pot. Heat on medium low.
2. Heat oil in large skillet and saute garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage, brown.
When sausage is cooked, add sausage, garlic, and onion to sauce. DO NOT DRAIN
SAUSAGE! (This will add flavor to your sauce.)
3. Cook pasta in lightly salted water for 8 minutes. DO NOT COOK ALL THE WAY.
Drain noodles and run them under cold water to prevent them from further cooking.
The noodles will finish cooking in the oven.
4. Mix sauce, noodles, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Pour into a baking dish. Top the pasta
mixture with remaining mozzarella cheese. Baked at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until cheese
I adjusted my mom's original recipe just a little bit. After I taste my sauce I always seem to throw some garlic salt and parmesan cheese into the pot and add a pinch more basil and parsley; I adjusted the recipe to reflect this. I encourage you to taste your sauce. If you think something is missing, add it! Also, I am all about saving money but don't go cheap on the crushed tomatoes. Shell out the extra dough for San Marzano tomatoes and your taste buds will thank you! I hope you and your family love this recipe as much as we do! To make the meal complete serve with a salad and garlic bread!