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Paccheri & cheese with peas
From the Pantry; Ideas from off the shelf

08/28/14
By Lauren Mifsud



Paccheri & cheese with peas
 
Toward the end of last week, as grocery funds were running low and inspiration in the kitchen even lower, I stumbled across this recipe from Bon Appetit — a website and magazine that I never call on for recipes, mostly due to their seemingly complex nature. 
 
But when I saw the picture of this dish I was instantly intrigued; it looked like a three-dimensional pasta casserole, and it turns out it tasted even better than it looked. 
 
Most of the recipes I’ve found in Bon Appetit are filled with the freshest ingredients and newest concepts. So, when I saw a recipe using ingredients I already had in my pantry, I figured it was worth trying. I’ll admit to being a bad foodie. I love to eat and cook more than I love to experiment with new flavors, textures and ingredients. But this recipe mixed the best of both worlds — familiar ingredients with a new cooking concept (for me, at least). 
 
The shape of the dish comes from the springform pan you cook it in. To this point, I’d only used a springform pan for cheesecake. Making cheesecake was the only reason I even bought a springform pan to begin with; I never thought to use it to shape casseroles and other non-confectionary dishes. 
 
At its heart, this recipe is a pasta bake. The Parmesan, Fontina and ricotta cheeses are easily replaced with any combination you prefer. I’m thinking of trying some combination of cheddar and pepper jack next time for a homier take. Pasta, parsley and a pinch of arugula round out this dish before it’s kicked into
overdrive with a hint of mint and lemon zest. 
 
While the outside of the pasta after it’s removed from the pan is a bit dry, it helps the casserole hold its shape. Cutting into the center reveals moist and creamy bites of flavorful pasta. 
 
Spinach could be substituted for the arugula, and you could always omit the mint and lemon zest in favor of red pepper flakes or another ingredient that would add some heat to the recipe. 
 
I opted to leave the mint out and didn’t find the finished product wanting for flavor. If you don’t have peas in your garden or the freezer, any pint-size veggie will do. You could even add ground sausage or turkey if you wanted to up the protein factor. 
 
Pasta is such a basic pantry ingredient that finding new ways to make and serve it grows harder every week. But this fun and delicious recipe takes a pasta bake in a unique direction that I’ll certainly use again. 

— Lauren Mifsud 
 





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