This is one of those meals. A meal everyone can love. And everyone can make.
A few weeks ago it was already close to 7:00pm and I was only just beginning to clean the kitchen from a long day of baking/cooking. Normally I would have made dinner earlier in the day, but this must have been an odd day where I made only snacks and desserts or something. Or maybe I had a massive failure day, I can’t remember. Anyway, I was tired and needed to get started on some computer work so dinner HAD to be quick.
And something that I knew everyone would actually eat.
Lucky for me the “must have meat with every meal” eaters were out of the house, so I knew I was making pasta.
From there I just boiled water, took a bunch of good stuff, added a lot of cheese, mixed it in with the pasta, tossed and tossed again.
I thought nothing of it other than “ok, dinner is done, moving on”. We eat dinner REALLY late, so I stuck the dish in the fridge for an hour or so and then threw it in the preheated oven at like 8:45pm. By 9:00pm the house smelled AMAZING. It’s that whole tomato basil combo, it’s like summer in the air. Cozy/comforting summer food. Bottom line, this dish is so simple and so good.
Oh and yes, I do understand that eating dinner at nine, or really at this point inching closer to nine thirty, is downright insane, but my family is a bit on the hyper side (understatement) and no one wants to stop until all the daylight is gone. Thus dinner is late. It always has been and probably always will be.
Luckily, after a long day, the pasta was just as good as it smelled.
My mom asked if I took pictures and I said no, that I had just thrown it together. But I knew this was one I had to make again, so I wrote the ingredients down in my little notebook and then made it again a few days ago. Just as good as I remembered it! I actually served it with grilled Italian chicken since the meat-eaters had returned to the house, so they ate it too. Only for them, it was more chicken with a side of pasta.
Un-planned dinners like this one almost never happen around here (at least not anymore), because I almost always make dinner early in the day and photograph it, but I almost love when they do happen, because a lot of time I just throw a bunch of whatever I have on hand together and I usually end up with a pretty easy and pretty good meal. I mean, sometimes they can turn out horrible. I am not a super cook or anything (trust me, I have BIG fails), but I am always interested to see what I will come up with and how it turns out. Luckily for everyone, this one was a winner.
Honestly, this dish really is so easy. You just boil the pasta, drain the water, add the pasta right back to the hot pot. Mix in all the renaming ingredients and give it a really good toss until a creamy, basily sauce forms. It’s like magic.
And you’re gonna love it.
And you are gonna have extra time! So at this point, that good book, walk down the street, or few minutes of E-News with a glass of wine and/or a cold beer, are pretty much calling your name.
One Pot 30 Minute Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta Bake.
- Serving Size: 4-6
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Total time: 25 minutes
- 1 pound fettuccine (use your favorite gluten free brand if needed)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup [chunky basil pesto | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/20-minute-brown-butter-chunky-basil-pesto-pasta/] (or store bought)
- 1-2 (8 ounce) jars of [your favorite pasta sauce | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/crockpot-brown-butter-marinara-sauce/]
- 1/3 cup enchilada sauce
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained
- 8 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese, crumbled (may sub regular feta, but the sheep's milk is creamier)
- 6 ounces fontina cheese, finely diced or shredded
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt + pepper
- 6 ounces (or more) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- fresh basil, for serving
- tom-tom (grape/cherry) tomatoes, halved, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and add it right back to the hot pot. To the pot add the butter, [chunky basil pesto | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/20-minute-brown-butter-chunky-basil-pesto-pasta/], [pasta sauce | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/crockpot-brown-butter-marinara-sauce/], enchilada sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, sheep's milk feta cheese, fontina cheese, cream cheese and heavy cream. Season with pepper and a tiny pinch of salt. Using a large wooden spoon toss everything together until a creamy sauce has formed, about 3-5 minutes. If pot is not oven safe, transfer the pasta to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place the mozzarella slices (or shredded mozz) on top of the pasta.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil ribbons. Allow to sit five minutes and then serve with fresh tom-tom tomatoes.
It’s win, win if you ask me.