Nothing sounds more appetizing during these cold winter months than a cheesy, bubbling baked pasta dish--the ultimate comfort food! It's also extremely versatile and a good dish to create when you are looking to experiment a little bit in the kitchen.
Here are some recipes from Lidia's Kitchen to get you started, and be sure to contact us if you any questions about the Lidia's Kitchen series. Tutti a tavola a Mangiare! (Everyone to the Table to Eat!)
Baked Stuffed Shells
The whole family loves this recipe, and it is a great dish to make when you have lots of guests coming for dinner. Once you've stuffed the shells and set them in the baking dish, the rest is easy. The delicious aroma will fill the house while your guests are having drinks, and the shells will arrive bubbling hot to the table. Let's face it, everyone loves baked pasta - the chef and the guests.
Baked Whole Wheat Penne with Chickpeas
Whole wheat pasta is a great alternative to regular pasta, and in the Italian tradition it is not a novelty. In Italy, pastas are made from buckwheat, farro, corn, chestnut, and chickpea flour, just to name a few. What is important to know is that each flour dictates a different cooking time for the pasta. For whole wheat, make sure to follow the instructions on cooking time; it does take longer than regular pasta, because the bran part has to be cooked. If it is not cooked enough, it remains chewy and won't absorb the sauce well.
Ditale in Italian means "thimble," and hence the name of this delightful little tubular pasta. It is great in soups, but even better when baked. This dish is like a pasta pudding-a savory dish with all the luxury of dessert.
Baked Polenta Layered with Mushroom Ragu
Polenta pasticiatta is a layered baked dish, just like lasagna, but made with warm, fresh polenta instead of pasta. And like lasagna, it is marvelously versatile: you can put all manner of good things in between the layers of polenta-cheeses, vegetables, meats, or sauces, or a combination of everything. People absolutely love it for the complexity of flavor, and because it can be prepared in advance.