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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baked Pizza Penne

After a busy holiday season right on the heels of returning from our vacation home only a day before the holiday festivities started for us, I have been relying on tried and tested home cooked meals.  At the same time, I am anxious to try out a few new dishes always in the hope of finding that next family favourite.  The new Foodland Ontario calendar arrived just before we left in late November so I didn't have a chance to go through it.  Last week I had a chance to read through the recipes for 2013 and immediately decided to make the Baked Pizza Penne (March) for dinner that night.

The calendar specifies Ontario is several of the ingredients which is great since they are promoting our beautiful province but you can get the same results by using local produce from your are if outside of Ontario.  Both my home canned tomato products were made with Ontario tomatoes but then the vast amount of the foods we consume are grown or produced in Ontario.  A wide variety of produce during the winter months.

baked pizza penne just out of the oven
Reading through this recipe I quickly realized it would be very easy to modify to include your favourite pizza toppings while leave the base flavours.  I modified the recipe because as always a recipe is just the starting point and I'm a firm believer in using what's on hand.  The original recipe can be found in the calendar and on the Foodland Ontario website.  My version follows below.

The baked pizza penne just out of the oven smelled delicious and it looked very much like the picture in the calendar so I was rather pleased.  I baked it in the largest stoneware casserole dish (9" x 13") of my KitchenAid 5 piece set bought at 70% off at Canadian Tire shortly after we moved here. Canadian Tire is the store to watch the sale flyers, one day sales and clearance bins as kitchen items are often on sale 40% to 70%.  I find that the stoneware gives nicer results for most casseroles in comparison to my ancient but still very function glass casserole dishes.

baked pizza penne served
I used bulk sausage in place of the pepperoni as I had some left-over from holiday entertaining that I wanted to use up.  I used home canned tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.  There is a flavour difference using home canned over store bought.  I also used organic raw coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil and used grated Guyere in place of the Parmesan as I had run out.  It was a cold, wet day with high winds that I didn't feel like walking to the store.  I omitted the hot pepper flakes and reduced the salt.

The baked pizza penne certainly did not disappoint!  It had nice mild pizza flavour and I did like the texture.  This is a casserole I would tweak just a bit more the next time I make it.  My husband said it needed more cheese to mimic the extra cheese we like on our pizza.  I thought it could have a bit strong pizza flavour.  What I really like about this recipe is the versatility!  You could use one or more meats of your choice to mimic a meat lover's pizza, you could eliminate the meat for a cheese pizza flavour and add anything that strikes your fancy as a pizza topping.

Baked Pizza Penne
modified from:  Foodland Ontario, 2013 Calender, March

1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red sweet pepper
2 tbsp organic raw coconut oil
3 c (750 ml) home canned crushed tomatoes or 28 oz store bought crushed or diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp dried basil
1½ tsp organic granulated sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp sea salt
2 c browned mild bulk sausage
2½ penne pasta
1 1/3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ c shredded Guyere cheese

Cook the pasta in boiling water 8 to 10 minutes until al dente.  Drain well and return to pot.  While the pasta is cooking chop the onion, mince the garlic and dice the sweet pepper.  Brown the sausage, breaking up the pieces well.  Drain.  Heat the oil in a deep frypan then stir in vegetables.  Cook over medium heat 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes,tomato paste, herbs, sugar, salt.  Bring to a boil then stir in sausage.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well.  Pour mixture into baking dish.  Top with cheeses.  Bake at 400°F/200°C for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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