When using a prepared tomato or pasta sauce, we shouldn’t have to fix up the sauce by adding spices, herbs, vegetables or anything else. What’s the point of spending the extra money for a prepared sauce if it needs fixing right out of the jar? Here’s a simple recipe that tests that proposition with one of the top rated jarred tomato sauces, Target’s Giada De Laurentiis Vegetable Marinara Pasta Sauce. The fact that the pasta disappeared before the picture was taken, sort of speaks for itself.
Mostaccioli is meant to be chunky and a little sweet. Chunkiness is the reason for adding the extra tomatoes and celery. Sweetness is the reason for adding the extra sugar. Although, Giada’s sauce may be sweet enough even without the extra bit of sugar.
3/4 to 1 pound ground beef
1 – 23 ounce jar Giada De Laurentiis Vegetable Marinara Pasta Sauce
1 – 15 ounce can either whole or diced tomatoes, drained
2 stalks celery – rough chop
1/2 pound mostaccioli noodles or medium ziti
8 to 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese – make it as cheesy as you wish
grated parmesan cheese – sprinkle to your taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper
Drain the juice from the diced or whole tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, break and/or cut up into chunky pieces. Into about a 3 quart pot, add the marinara sauce, tomatoes, celery and sugar. Stir and heat the contents of the pot to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes while the beef and pasta are cooking.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Break the ground beef into small (but not tiny) chunks while cooking. When browned, add to the tomato sauce mixture. Continue to simmer the sauce until ready to mix with the pasta.
Cook pasta according to package directions, but for about 2 minutes less than the directions indicate. Drain pasta when done. Rinse the pasta with cold water to cool down slightly.
In an 8 x 12 microwave safe baking dish, stir sauce and pasta together. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for about 8 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the pasta. Leave uncovered and heat in the microwave another two minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Picture coming the next time this is made. They ate this one up before the camera flashed!