Caprese Pasta Bake

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Last week was wonderful. The sun was shining as bright as July. There were t-shirts and flip-flops as far as the eye could see. And patio hang outs were the dinner local of choice.

This week…not. so. much.

RAAAAAAIIIIIIIINNNNNNNN.

It’s freezing in Atlantic Canada, and has been raining for what feels like a year (or 3 days – which counts as a year, right?). Now, I’m not normally the dude who complains about the weather, but the summer-ish sun spoils me to no end. Immediately I expect Canada to feel like Southern California. Lemon trees in the backyard, a produce season that never ends, and early morning surfing. A guy can dream…

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this 361,000 times, but Netflix is my best friend when it’s cold outside. Binge watching season.

Currently;

Community & Fringe.

And with the cold comes comfort food. Oh comfort food, the light at the end of the tunnel. The cherry on top of the storm. I love comfort food.

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There are few things more comforting than pasta. It just makes the world feel right again. Warm hearts and happy bellies. Mr. Weatherman tells me that it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow, but for tonight, we rock out to the comforting sound of pasta.

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Caprese Pasta Bake

Serves 6

500 grams pasta shells

2 cups whole milk

3 1/2 cups old cheddar

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons basil pesto

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tomatoes, finely sliced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/4 cup basil

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella

2 teaspoons olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook your pasta according to package directions (al dente, please). Drain, and pour the pasta into a large bowl. Toss with a couple teaspoons of olive oil, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk in your flour. Keep the flour moving until it’s foaming (about 1 minute). Whisk in your milk, bring to a simmer, and continue whisking until it thickens (about 8 minutes). Whisk in your pesto. Add 2 cups of your cheese to the saucepan, and stir until the cheese has melted. Pour the sauce over your pasta, and stir to combine.

Add your pasta to your oven proof pan. Top the pasta with your additional 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Then several slices of tomato. Sprinkle over the oregano.

Bake for the pasta for 20 minutes. Remove and break your mozzarella into small pieces over the top of the pasta. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Top with fresh basil. Serve with a salad. Or just carb on, friends.

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