In My French Family Table (Roost Books, 2016), Béatrice Peltre offers a beautiful assortment of over 120 recipes for naturally gluten-free dishes that feature whole grains, colorful produce, and distinctive spices. Every meal is an inspired work of love.
This comfy pasta gratin makes for a happy family. I am particularly fond of rounding out the taste of the sauce with ricotta; Lulu thinks it gives the sauce a lovely pink color. You can use the sauce for pasta served on its own too, so freeze any leftovers. If your family likes food on the spicy side, add a dash of cayenne pepper to the sauce when you cook it.
Pasta Gratin Recipe
• 2 slices toasted bread
• 1 tablespoon parsley
• 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 12 oz rigatoni
• Olive oil
• 1/4 red onion, chopped
• 3 oregano sprigs
• 2 thyme sprigs
• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 carrot, peeled and grated
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/4 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
• 1 lb tomatoes, cored and diced, plus 1 tomato, sliced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
• Sea salt and pepper
• 1 cup whole ricotta cheese
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 4-1/2 oz mozzarella cheese, diced
• Ground nutmeg, to finish
1. Place the slices of toasted bread and parsley in the bowl of a food processor; pulse into fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and combine with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; set aside.
2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, following the instructions on the package. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the baking dish with olive oil; set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
5. Add the onion and oregano and thyme; cook for 5 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, without browning.
6. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
7. Add the carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
8. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.
9. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and sugar; season with sea salt and pepper; cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
10. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Discard the oregano, thyme, and bay leaf. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor with the ricotta, and purée until smooth.
11. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, basil, pine nuts, and the rest of the Parmesan cheese.
12. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish. Scatter the mozzarella cheese and sliced tomato over the pasta. Top with the breadcrumbs; add a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg.
13. Bake the gratin for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden and crispy. Serve with a green salad on the side.
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