Thursday, 15 March 2012

Smoke Signals

Pasta al Forno con Carne, Fagioli, Pepe & Scamorza Affumicata
Pasta Bake with Ground Meat, String Beans, Peppers and Smoked Scamorza Cheese

Although I am generally speaking, not a fan of anything covered in melted cheese, I do have to say that I got it into my head that I should use some of the last of the smoked Scamorza cheese that I have to make a great pasta bake... and have been looking forward to it all day!

With a little ground meat and a few string beans into the mix, I turned what would have been a pretty boring macaroni and cheese-type dish into something much more satisfying and delicious and the whole thing was made and ready to eat in just a half an hour... it's easy when you know how... and this is how!

I put the penne on to boil in plenty of salted water as usual. I used 2 handfuls per portion. At the same time, I started to fry a handful of ground, mixed pork and beef in a very hot non-stick pan with no added fat. What I did add was crushed garlic, chopped onion, fresh oregano and thyme, grated nutmeg and a little cayenne pepper. Once the meat was cooked but not yet browned-off, I added half of a red pointed pepper in slices.

Back to the pasta- and at 5 minutes of cooking time, I added a handful of string beans into the water and gave it a further 2 minutes before draining.

During those 2 minutes, I added a good heaped tablespoon of tomato paste and stirred it into the ground meat and then I added the drained penne to the pan and stirred everything together well. I added a little milk and a handful of grated, smoked Scamorza and let the pasta simmer for a couple of minutes, so that all of the flavors could combine nicely and then spooned it into an oven-proof dish. I added a light sprinkle of additional cheese on top and a good pinch of cracked black pepper corns, and popped it into a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes until it was wonderfully golden brown! And doesn't that just look wonderful? Bon apetito!

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