Baked Mezzemaniche with Spinach and Tomato
I have been told that today is "World Pasta Day"... what a silly idea! And who on earth comes up with these ridiculous and pointless celebration days anyway? Especially with something like pasta! I mean... everybody knows that pasta is something that can be celebrated on any day of the year anyway!
So I made a pasta dish after all... and one featuring my little favorites, the "mezzamaniche", or "half-sleeves", lol! You have GOT TO adore that name! And you will just love eating them too, these chunky, half-sized jumbo-macaroni! Especially when they have been oven-baked!
To make them, I brought a saucepan of water to the boil for my pasta, BUT, before I started the pasta off, I briefly dropped my spinach into it, so that it would get blanched and quickly soften up, ready to be wrung-out and finally chopped... which was exactly what I did whilst the pasta boiled!
I chopped the spinach up as finely as possible and then briefly sautéed it in olive oil with some garlic, finely chopped onion and a little finely diced bacon. I added a little sun-dried tomato, which I cut into fine strips and then seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
After the pasta had cooked for 5-6 minutes, I drained it but retained about a cupful of the water and added that to the spinach in the frying pan. I stirred it and let it finish cooking for a further 2-3 minutes, then added a good splash of milk and a good pinch of grated parmesan. I stirred it through and transferred it to a baking dish, adding an extra layer of grated parmesan, a sprinkle of finely chopped bacon and a few slices of cherry tomato... Delicious!
Of into a hot oven it went, for 20 minutes, till the pasta was cooked through, the cheese had melted and browned into a yummy crust- and I could resist temptation no more! And simple though this dish is, I am sure you will feel just the same way about it!