Leftover tomato sauce from pizza has to get turned into something tasty. It's even better if it can be turned into something delicious with low effort for the next day's dinner. Pasta bakes can be prepped ahead of time and thrown in the oven whenever, making life pretty easy. Soaking the pasta in hot water instead of going to the trouble of boiling a pot of water makes things easier again. Cover it in cheese, and sure put more cheese on it when it's served up.As the pasta will be baked in the oven (and possibly sitting in sauce for 24 hours), it doesn't need to be fully cooked before assembling the dish. By soaking the pasta in water before cooking, it has time to fully hydrate, the final stage of cooking can then happen in the oven. Using hot water shortens the hydration time, but cold water works just as well, but takes longer (I use this method for lasagne as I like to do a long low simmer on the ragú). The starches all swell up with the water, and don't take anywhere as long to cook as usual. Don't forget to salt the water as usual, and to save dishes, I soak the pasta in the dish it'll be baked in. Respect to Ideas in Food for the idea, and their book of the same name that's light enough to read in bed. I've been soaking lasange sheets since I read it. The other advantage is that your pasta probably won't soak up as much sauce as usual, so you'll still have an actual sauce in your pasta bake.
The choice of sausage doesn't matter. Pork sausages are tasty, but vegetarian sausages are easier in this house. Pick whatever you like, and leftover onions from dressing pizza are welcome too. I like to assemble this while the pizza is cooking, so two day's worth of dinner are out of the way in no time.
- 150g pasta
- 1 tsp salt
- A kettle of boiling water
- 2 medium onions
- 4 large sausages or as many as you'd usually feed two people
- Oil for frying
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic paste (or minced garlic, or leave out if using leftover pizza sauce)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- Glass of wine (optional)
- Can of chopped tomatoes (or carton of passata, or strained juice and leftover sauce from pizza night
- Grated cheese
Weigh the pasta into the dish you plan to use for baking the final dish. Add the salt and enough hot water to cover the pasta. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Slice up the onions and sausages (if using regular pork sausages, snip them into bitesized pieces with a scissors). Fry them till the onions are soft and the sausages are browned. Add the garlic and tomato paste and fry briefly, then add the herbs and spices. If using wine, deglaze the pan (i.e. use the wine to scrape up all the brown gunk) and reduce down. Then add the tomatos/passata/leftover sauce and simmer for five minutes.
Strain off most of the water from the soaked pasta, and add the pasta to the sauce. Mix well and pour into the dish. Cover with a generous layer of cheese and some tinfoil. You can let it sit overnight, or you can bake it right away, depends on how soon you want to eat it.
Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and rock the temperature up to 220°C for another 15 minutes until the cheese is all bubbly and crispy. No need to preheat the oven, but start the 20 minute timer when it gets up to temperature. Serve with more cheese and black pepper. Happy days.