Baked Penne

This is a pretty big recipe, making enough food for two 9x13" pans. We were making a batch of penne for ourselves, but also for a friend. It's a vegetarian version of baked penne (I think I have a couple meat versions in here somewhere already), and very, very cheesy. If you make this, my recommendation is to make the full amount of sauce and simply freeze what you don't need yet, so you can use the leftover sauce at a later time. Hope you enjoy!

Marinara Sauce:

1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
maybe 1/3 of the tomato sauce can of water
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 big glugs of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 13-ounce can mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons each: dried basil, dried marjoram (of course you could use fresh)
2 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley (likewise, fresh is fine)

Heat onions, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When onions are almost translucent, add garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add in water, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and whole peeled tomatoes, and bring to a strong simmer. Once simmering, use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes. You want to be able to discern that tomato pieces are present, but you don't want them to be very big. Add mushrooms and herbs and simmer for about an hour, or until thickened and fragrant.

Baked Penne:

2 pounds penne, cooked to al dente
1 pound-ish mozzarella, shredded or cut into cubes
1 pound assorted Italian cheeses (I just bought that "Italian blend" shredded stuff for simplicity, but you can use whatever you like)

Heat oven to 400F. Mix together penne, mozzarella and sauce with a spoon. Portion into two 9x13" pans (or just in one big pan if you wish). Top each pan with half of the Italian cheese assortment. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Alternately, you may bake for 30 minutes covered with foil, then another 30 minutes uncovered. Serves 10-ish.


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