For some reason, Italian food just seems like the right thing to serve on major holidays. Usually for our Christmas Eve family dinner, we have an Italian food feast; maybe that is why I associate Italian food and holidays together. Since I did not do the usual Italian food spread this past year for Christmas (my pregnancy and lactose intolerance issues precluded my meal plans), I decided to change it up and make an Italian-inspired dinner for our Easter celebration instead.
For our main dish, I decided to try a recipe that my friend Claire recently made with good results. Since pasta is so filling, I decided to do some simple accompaniments of garlic bread and green salad to finish off our meal. It was not fancy, but everything was certainly delicious. My mom, husband, son and I really enjoyed it!
Claire's Pesto Pasta Surprise
1 package whole wheat penne
1 jar marinara sauce -OR- 1 cup of homemade marinara
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup pesto
Additional mozzarella for topping
Prepare penne (or pasta of your choice) per package directions; set aside. Combine cheeses and pesto in medium bowl; set aside. In 8x12 pan, layer as follows: half of the cooked pasta, half the marinara sauce, all the cheese/pesto mixture, remaining half of the pasta, remaining marinara, additional mozzarella.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
I used Jenn Nelson's Fabulous Marinara Sauce (see previous post).
Also, here is the link that has the garlic bread recipe.
Ina's Garlic Ciabatta Bread
Even though our Easter meal was on a much smaller scale than the usual Christmas gut-buster, it was still a fantastic choice. This was so good; I will make this dish again and again and again.