Apollonia Baked Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers (to sub brined capers, rinse them well, then add 2 tsp salt)
2 teaspoons Apollonia N29
1/4 cup zante currant raisins (or sub regular Thompson rasins)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Approximately 1/2 of a tube of tomato paste
3 teaspoons Hawayej
5 cups of chopped and seeded squash (winter or summer both work, just par-cook the winter squash until tender).
1 (14.5 ounce) can of chopped tomatoes
1 pound of short pasta, my favorite is cavatappi
1 (8 ounce) container of perlini mozzarella, 6 ounces of finely chopped fontina, or a mix
Add olive oil to a large pan with the lid off, over medium heat. Cook the onions until softened and translucent, then add the squash, the capers (no need to rinse, their salt becomes part of the dish) and the Apollonia. Cook for two minutes more, then add the raisins, tomato paste, pine nuts, and Hawayej and stir well to combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and drop to a simmer.
Boil 6 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons sea salt (double this if you use a light and flaky salt like kosher salt). Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a large casserole dish.
When the pasta is just about al dente, drain, reserving a couple cups of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with your cooked vegetables, stir well to combine. Stir in the cheese and a bit of pasta water if the mixture seems too dry (you want it to be fairly wet but not soupy).
Transfer everything to the baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, and bake for about 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve in slices. Freezes and reheats great also.
Variations & Ideas
• If you'd like to make this a vegan dish substitute a mix of white miso, tahini, and cooked chickpeas for the cheese. Use olive oil to grease the dish instead of butter.
• This dish also takes well to meaty additions. Brown 1/2 - 3/4 of a pound of ground beef, set aside, and then add it back into the casserole when you add the pasta. Or try adding chopped meat from a Crispy Pork Shoulder.
• This recipe was inspired by one I did years ago, Braised Grey Squash, and many of the alternative veggies listed there would also work great in this dish.
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