Updated: 10/12/2016 4:13 PM | Print Story |  Email

Baked Pastas

Hot dish is a staple for Minnesota moms, but it isn’t always something that you want to serve to guests.  Antigoni Sander, co-owner of Kafe 421, says she can change that with her one dish suppers that are not only impressive, but healthier too.


Baked Cheese Tortellini with Cauliflower and Kale
Prep Time: About 1 Hour
Serves: 6 – 8 People

15 oz. Cheese Toretllini
1 Head Cauliflower
6 Tbsp. Butter
6 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
3 Cups Heavy Cream Pinch of Nutmeg
2 Cups grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
½ Large Yellow Onion, sliced
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Bunch of Kale
3 Cups Cubed Ham (about 1 pound, cut into ¼” diced)
½ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, Minced
1 tsp. Granulated Garlic
Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 375F.

Chop the cauliflower into florets the same size as the tortellini.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and the cauliflower into the boiling water together. Boil them for about 2 minutes and then empty the contents into a colander and run it under cold water. Empty the contents into a large mixing bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick together, give it a stir and set aside.

Next, In a pot over medium heat gently melt 4 Tbsp. of butter (half a stick). Once melted add 4 Tbsp. of minced garlic. Stir the garlic around for a minute until you can smell it flavoring the butter. Next, add 2 ½ cups of heavy cream to the pot and bring to a boil. Stirring it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, add the nutmeg and about a ¼ tsp. black pepper, stir them into the cream and let it simmer for about 2 minutes, you will see it start to thicken and coat the back of your spoon. At this point, remove the pot from the heat and slowly begin to stir in the parmesan cheese. Once you have stirred it all in and it has gotten pretty melty, return the pot to the heat and allow

it to simmer for a couple of minutes. Don’t get stressed if the sauce doesn’t get super smooth, parmesan is not the easiest cheese to melt. While it is simmering you may stir in the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream to help smooth the sauce out if it has gotten thick. Once the cheese sauce is relatively smooth set it aside until it’s time to assemble your dish.

Next prepare the kale. First, wash the kale and then rip the leaves off of the thick woody stem. Tear the leaves into large pieces – about 2 inch chunks. Next, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle it with salt and sautee until translucent. Next, add the remaining mined garlic and red pepper flakes, stir these around for about a minute. Then add the kale and a splash of water. Stir the kale around for about 2 minutes. It will become gently wilted but still retain a nice dark green color. Taste and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if it needs it.

The last step before assembling the dish is to prepare the breadcrumb topping. To do this, simply combine the breadcrumbs with the parsley, granulated garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix together and set aside.

You can now assemble the dish. Using the large bowl which holds the pasta and cauliflower first stir in the warm cheese sauce, next fold in the cubed pieces of ham, followed by gently stirring in the kale so that it weaves itself throughout the cauliflower, pasta and ham. Next, butter a 9 X 13 baking dish and empty the pasta mixture into the dish, using a large spoon to spread it all out evenly in the dish. Next, sprinkle the top evenly with the breadcrumbs. 2 Tbsp. of butter have remained, melt those – I use the microwave – and drizzle the melted butter over the breadcrumbs.

Place the baking dish in the center of your preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the sides of the baked pasta are bubbling and the breadcrumbs are nice a golden you can remove the dish from the oven.

Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.


Hearty Rustic Vegetable Baked Rigatoni
Prep Time: About 1 Hour
Serves: 6 – 8 People

½ Pound Dried Rigatoni
½ Cup Olive Oil
½ of 1 Large Onion, chopped into 1/2 “ pieces
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Red Bell Peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 oz. Crimini Mushrooms, cleaned and cut in quarters
1 Small Eggplant, cut into 1” cubes
1 Zucchini, cut into ½” thick half moons
1 – 28 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
1 – 6 oz. Can Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced in half
1 Pound Ricotta Cheese
12 oz. Crumbled Feta
2 Eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper
Extra Feta and Olives for garnish


Preheat oven to 375F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating up wash and chop all of the vegetables. Once the water has come to a boil add the pasta and cook for about 2 minutes less than what the package instructs. Drain the pasta and run under cold water. Return to the pot, drizzle with olive oil and give it a stir so it doesn’t stick.

While the pasta is cooking in a separate pot you can begin your sauce. First heat the olive oil over medium heat. Next add the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper. After about 2 minutes add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stir for a minute and then add the the remaining vegetables in the following order: Peppers, Mushrooms, Eggplant, Zucchini. Add each vegetable separately, stir for about a minute and then add the next vegetable, sprinkling with a bit of salt throughout. Once all the vegetables have started to soften add the diced tomatoes along with the tomato paste and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring the sauce to a boil, stir in the olives and turn down to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the top slightly ajar, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then place the sauce in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool off.

While the sauce is cooling prepare the Ricotta Cheese mixture. In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, feta cheese, eggs, a pinch of salt and about ¼ tsp. black pepper. Stir until evenly combined.

After 30 minutes you can assemble your dish. First, butter a 9 X 13 sized baking dish. Next, stir together the pasta and the vegetable tomato sauce. Now take the cheese mixture and dollop five generous spoonfuls on the bottom of the dish. Then spread half of the pasta and vegetable mix over the cheese and spread it evenly in the dish. Next, dollop a few more spoonfuls of cheese mix over the pasta and then spread the remaining pasta over the cheese. To finish the dish dollop the remaining ricotta mix over the top of the dish, keeping it spotty so that veggies and pasta can be seen. If you have extra olives and feta cheese sprinkle those over the top of the dish.

Place the dish in the center of the oven and bake for 1 hour. Once the ricotta gets a little dark and the pasta on the sides of the dish get nice and crispy remove the dish from the oven. Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.


To Learn More About Tig and her recipes check out her blog www.apinchoflemon.com and check out her restaurant Kafe 421.