Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Fried Onions

This recipe from the New York Times is a great comfort-food meal for these chilly, end-of-winter days. Fry some onions until soft and set half aside. Add spices and tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, cook some rotini or small pasta shells. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce with some parsley, top with the reserved onions and cheeses and bake until the dish is bubbling and the cheese has browned.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the dried spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Look for cheddar that does not contain colour. Genuine Parmesan cheese is all-natural. If you choose to use hot sauce, try original Tabasco or Simply Natural Organic sriracha. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit Eye For a Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6  tablespoons (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3  large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1  large bay leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) ground coriander
  • 1  teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
  •  Pinch of cayenne, plus more to taste
  • 1 ¼ (6.25 ml) teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 3  fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon (5 ml) cumin seeds
  • 1  teaspoon (5 ml) black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.6 ml) ground allspice
  • 1  (15-ounce/443 ml) can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1  pound (454 g) small pasta, such as rotini or shells
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) chopped parsley or cilantro (or use a combination of cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
  • 8  ounces (227 g) shredded Cheddar
  • ½  cup (125 ml) grated Parmesan
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional

Preparation:

Heat ¼ cup (60 ml) oil in a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet over high heat. Add onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 12 to 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if the pan starts to scorch.) Lower heat to medium, and stir in coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) salt; cook 1 more minute. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and reserve (leave the bay leaf in the skillet).

Add garlic, cumin seeds, pepper and allspice to the skillet, and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Use your hands or kitchen scissors to squish or cut the tomatoes into pieces and add to pan. Fill the empty tomato can with water, and pour into the skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil and remaining 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and cayenne if you like. Remove bay leaf.

As mixture cooks, heat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup (250 ml) pasta water, and drain pasta.

Stir pasta, reserved pasta water, and parsley into skillet with tomato sauce. Top with reserved browned onions, Cheddar and Parmesan. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can run the pan under the broil to brown the top, or leave it as is. Let cool slightly, top with more parsley, if desired, and serve with hot sauce, if you like. Serves 4-6.

From the New York Times