Easy “Baked Spanish Penne”

I have this great recipe, Spanish lasagna, that uses artichoke hearts and black olives for the filling. As I am mad for those two ingredients, not to mention pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese, it’s a favorite,  a “treat” dish that I make once in awhile (since Ricotta & artichoke hearts can be a bit pricey). I also occasionally make Baked Ziti or Baked Penne, so, since I didn’t have any lasagna noodles, I got the idea to make a combo of the two dishes. Here’s the ingredients.

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That’s a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes. I only used half of the 2 lb Ricotta (it was on sale and larger sizes are generally cheaper per pound anyway). That’s 6 slices of Mozzarella pictured but you could also use shredded. The artichoke hearts in the jar were marinated; you could use unmarinated, typically sold in cans, but using the jarred marinated type meant I didn’t have to add any additional seasonings (I am ALL about shortcuts). This is a large jar; you could also use two small 6 oz ones which are more readily available in stores.

 
I boiled and drained a 1 lb box of Penne.

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Trust me that there’s a pound of Penne somewhere in there

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Next I rinsed and broke up the black olives. The easy way to break them up is by hand, plus it’s knd of fun.

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My best, or one of my best kitchen tricks, is mixing things in the sink. It’s easier on the arms  and any slopping goes in the sink.  Here is the tomato sauce with black olives and drained artichokes added to a medium size bowl. I didn’t use quite all the artichokes since I wanted to save a few for salads.

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I used clean kitchen scissors to cut up the artichoke hearts right in the bowl.

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In a large 4 qt bowl I put the cooked Penne and then the sauce mixture, topped by a pound of Ricotta and broken up pieces of Mozzarella.

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I then mixed it all up. (It kind of turns pink, do not be alarmed!) I added no extra seasonings except fresh ground pepper. As I mentioned, marinated artichoke hearts come with seasoning and the cheese and tomato sauce both contain salt.

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I then spread the mixture into a 9×13 pan. It was risky making a huge pan of an experimental recipe but I gambled that I’d like this. On top I drizzled a bit of olive oil and sprinkled on a modest amount of shredded Parmesan.

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I topped it with a loose sheet of foil.

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I baked the dish about 35 minutes at 325°.  Basically you want to heat it through – since there is no egg added there’s no worry about undercooking.

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Was it good? Hell yes it was good! In order to not wolf it all down in a matter of days and to have the pleasure of spreading ny treat out over time, I habitually freeze lasagne portions.  That worked now too. The easy way is to slice portions and freeze them on a cookie sheet. After they’re frozen you just wrap them in individual portions.

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