Baked farfale and mushroom casserole

This is a variation of a comfort food dish my mother used to make when I was younger.  She would use loads of yellow cheddar and bake the whole mixture until it browned and bubbled.  Cheese and pasta are two of my favourite things so combining them in a dish is like comfort food heaven.  I decided to make this dish a bit more complex by using mushrooms as well as several kinds of cheese instead of just cheddar.  I added ricotta because of the creaminess it adds to baked pasta dishes; ensuring they stay moist and delicious in the oven.  Although ricotta is delicious, it has a mild flavour which is nicely balanced by the sharpness of the old cheddar.  Finally, I finished it all off with a salty favourite, parmesan.

7-8 large Crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced (they will shrink when baked and you still want some texture)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar (I like using white old or extra old for added flavour)
Box of farfale pasta (these are shaped like little bow ties.  I buy Barrila)
1 cup ricotta
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups marinara (I used my homemade recipe from earlier posts)
Parmesan, grated to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dried basil, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste

Cook your pasta for 2 minutes less than al dente: you want it slightly undercooked so it doesn’t get mushy when baked.  Once your pasta is fully cooked, drain and pour back in the pot.

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Spoon a bit of marinara onto the bottom of your baking dish, spread to ensure the bottom is covered.

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Next, add the remaining marinara to your pasta and mix.  Grate your cheddar and set aside.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cheddar, and add the rest to the pasta along with your ricotta, garlic, salt and pepper.  Taste, and add more salt or pepper as needed, add your mushrooms and mix well.  Pour your pasta mixture into the baking pan and spread to ensure it is even.  Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over your pasta and grate some fresh parmesan over the top.  Add your dried basil and chili flakes then cover with aluminum foil.

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Preheat your oven to 400F and bake for 30 minutes.  Finally, remove the foil and finish your pasta for 10 minutes at 425 F until browned.

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Enjoy with a fresh salad 🙂

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