I've heard - and talked about - that blogging about recipes you don't LOVE is against all the blogging rules.
In the past, I've tried recipes and cooked things I wasn't wild about and posted about them. But at some point along the way, I decided that you didn't want to hear about stuff I hated or was ambivalent about. You wanted to hear about the dishes that made me smile, the ones that warmed my ribs, the ones that made my tastebuds pop.
I think you can tell - I have LOVED everything I've posted about lately. So, goal achieved!!
Before I start here. There's something you need to know. The original recipe did not meet the criteria above.
So I changed it. And it was the perfect pasta casserole for a freezing winter afternoon.
It's fairly involved (it'll definitely need to be started early in the day), but when it's -30 degrees C outside, I figure we've all got a little extra time on our hands in the house.
The reason this takes so long is because you have to start by making a meat sauce. Which cooks for quite some time. Also, the recipe calls for veal, but I couldn't get veal so I just upped the beef and
Let's kick it into gear.
Heat oil in a large pot and add the meats. Cook until browned, breaking up the chunks of meat with a wooden spoon.
Add the garlic.
Add the onion.
Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the salt and pepper.
Then the basil.
Followed up by red wine.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the tomato purée. Stir until combined. Simmer on low for 2 - 3 hours.
The best part is that this recipe makes a REALLY BIG batch. The tortellini recipe calls for 3 cups of sauce, so the rest can be portioned into freezer bags and saved for a rainy day. Which is so great.
You can also plan this so that as the meat sauce is finishing, everything else is ready to go. Totally your call.
Next up is the béchamel sauce.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Then add the flour. Whisk together and cook until the flour is golden brown. Don't let it burn!
Then add the milk slowly, whisking constantly.
Heat the mixture until it is simmering. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly so it doesn't burn or cook to the bottom of the pot.
The mixture should thicken (you can see how it has on the sides of the pot in the picture below), then add in the provolone cheese and stir until it's melted.
Then add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
Add in salt and pepper. I usually go for about 1 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Then stir in 3 cups of your prepared meat sauce.
Put the pasta in a really, really big bowl. I used my 32 cup Tupperware bowl and it was perfect.
Pour the prepared sauce into the bowl with the tortellini and stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta and sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Cook. Wait. Cook and wait. Get hungry.
I loved everything about this. The sauce, the cheese, the pasta. How it all came together and warmed the frozen cockles of my heart.
You could use any pasta you like. I do recall seeing a bacon and cheese tortellini pasta and that would be probably wildly delightful. I used a package of beef/cheese and a package of plain cheese.
Serve with a Caesar salad and The Bread and that's a meal that is family friendly that will keep bellies full for days. Or in my case, until dessert.
Xoxo - Heather