We love Italian, but unfortunately the kiddos don’t like ricotta cheese (gasp!). I have finally found a lasagna like dish that everyone loves, and this has become our go to “lasagna”. Every time I’ve made this the kiddos have asked for seconds. That’s a score in my book!
******I also make just the sauce from this dish and use it in all my Italian cooking. It is the BEST pasta sauce…can’t ever go back to the jar stuff…yes, it really is that good! This is our go to red sauce for all dishes we make.******
Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 35-oz. cans Italian tomatoes (like San Marzano)
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste (I usually use about 2 TBSP, but it all depends on how sweet or sour your canned tomatoes are)
- 2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I use a fine microplane grater–if you use a larger shred, your amounts will need to be adjusted downward since with the fine grater there is a lot of air taking up the 2 c. space)
- 1 lb. Campanelle pasta or pasta of your choice
- 1 lb. pearl mozzarella
- 1 c. shredded fresh basil leaves
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until you reach a desired texture (we prefer smooth with some chunkier pieces). Then add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, if using, to the skillet. Season with salt and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to reduce until you get your desired consistency. We like a thicker sauce, so I simmered for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and add sugar and salt as needed. Add the Pecorino Romano cheese and stir to combine. If you use finely grated the cheese the cheese will “melt” into the sauce quite easily. Taste again adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil; add salt; and cook pasta according to the box.
- When pasta is al dente, add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce, and toss to combine. Add the fresh mozzarella and chopped basil.
Serve with garlic bread, salad, and fruit and enjoy!