Easy Baked Rotini

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Even though its March and that means warmer weather for a lot of us, its still pretty chilly here in Wisconsin. So this evening I was wanting to make something warm and delicious. This is how the baked rotini happened. I tend to watch a lot of cooking shows in my free time, so I have picked up a few things watching the celebrity chefs make delicious food, and one is when making baked pasta don’t over cook your pasta. Get it to al dente, and then be done with it. If you don’t know what that is, its basically to the point where you check it, and you think, this needs about 3 more minutes, but instead of letting it cook for 3 more minutes you take it off the stove and drain it. Also, when it comes to the cheese, use full fat, reduced fat…whatever you would like. And one more thing…Joey and I like a lot of garlic, so I used 3 cloves, but thats at your discretion.

What you need:
1 lb ground meat (you can use beef, chicken, turkey, italian sausage, venison – use what you have- I used grass fed beef)
32 oz of pasta sauce (we make and can ours from tomatoes in our garden so thats what I used)
1 13 oz box of rotini
1-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 of medium size onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried italian seasoning
1 egg
1 16 oz container ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
some additional vegetable options to add in:
spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, kale, bell pepper, more tomatoes…. I had some cabbage that was getting close to going bad so I used about a cup of that finely chopped along with about a cup of mushrooms finely chopped as well.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Get your water started for cooking pasta and cook pasta to al dente.
Brown ground meat, drain.
While this is all cooking you can chop the onion, garlic and any additional vegetables.
Mix ricotta with egg in small bowl
Drain pasta, mix in sauce, ground meat, onion, garlic, italian seasoning and any other vegetables you may be adding in.
In 9×13 casserole dish take half of pasta & meat mixture and smooth into one layer.
Then layer ricotta cheese mixture.
Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella cheese over that.
Top with the rest of pasta and meat.
Evenly spread the rest of the shredded cheese over top.
Cover with tinfoil and bake 40-45 minutes until cheese is all bubbly and melty (yes, melty is a word)
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
You can make this ahead of time, just let it cool before you put it in the fridge and cover it tightly. I would then take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking.

I hope you enjoy, if you make it, let me know how you like it!



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