Both adults and kids will love this hearty pasta. It’s classic home cooking that never fails to warm the belly and soul. I’ve been making it for years, and it’s always a hit. Comfort food is called that for a reason. Sautéing and seasoning the vegetables before combining with the pasta and cheese really release the aromatics that make the dish pop.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes in puree, tomatoes
coarsely chopped and puree reserved
Salt, to taste
1 lb. penne pasta
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and puree and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a baking dish.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add the pasta, stir well and cook until barely al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.
In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, the ricotta and fontina. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bake until the cheeses are melted and the tips of the pasta are crusty, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.