March 24, 2009

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

It's the smoked cheese (mozzarella, in this case) that makes this baked pasta dish stand out from all others you've probably tasted. The ingredients and preparation make this pretty similar to your typical spinach lasagna, with two major differences: the smoked mozzarella adds an almost scarily similar meat flavor, that of pork or bacon, and the sour cream in the cheese "filling" gives a unique tanginess and creaminess to the dish. If you've ever had smoked cheese, then you know what I'm talking about. The rind of this cheese tastes like...well (I'm gonna go far to say this) bacon, and the cheese as a whole tastes hickory-smoked, like it's been roasting away in a smoker next to slabs of ribs, briskets, you name it. That being said, this is a very rich and filling dish. You only need a small portion for a meal (be careful, the recipe fills a 9x13-inch dish, so plan accordingly), but the full flavor lasts all the way to the last bite. I used a standard marinara sauce, and due to the flavors of the other ingredients, a lot of extra seasoning probably isn't needed. Spinach and basil add a fresh veggie-herbal note. One thing I'd probably change: I used whole-wheat pasta but I'd use "white" pasta in the future. Sure, the whole-wheat version is healthier, but it adds a heaviness (in texture and tasts) to a dish that doesn't need any extra.

Make again? Yes. Good for a crowd, or freezing for leftovers. Otherwise, find a way to halve the recipe.




Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake
Cooking Light, January 2007

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