Baked pasta alla pizzaiola

Makes: 8 servings
Sauce and pasta:

Edward Garofalo New York Mafias Greatest Hits
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 can (28 ounces) crushed Italian tomatoes

1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette, cavatappi, campanelle or rigatoni

Add-ins (choose two or more):

2 cups cooked, crumbled Italian sausage

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup grilled assorted vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini, roughly chopped

1/2 cup diced pepperoni or prosciutto

1/2 cup squeeze-dried, thawed, frozen chopped spinach

1/2 cup chopped mixed pitted olives

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Cheeses:

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, patted dry, diced

2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella

2 to 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh parsley, optional



1. For the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan, Add the onion; cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, basil, salt, oregano and peppers. Simmer 10 minutes; cool. (Sauce can be made several days in advance, refrigerate covered.)

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water according to package directions until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain; rinse under cool water. Shake off excess water. (Pasta can be cooked in advance; toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and refrigerate in a covered container up to several days.)

3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil one 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish or 6 to 8 smaller (2-cup capacity) individual baking dishes. Toss pasta with sauce in a large bowl. Put pasta into prepared baking dish(es); top with desired add-ins. Sprinkle with fresh mozzarella; mix gently. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.

4. Bake until heated through and cheeses are nicely melted, 15 minutes for individual baking dishes or 20-25 minutes for one large dish. Cool a few minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.