Baked Penne Pasta Casserole

Casseroles are one of America’s most popular comfort foods, so it’s not surprising that a Google search of the word turns up more than 35 million results.

Of course, there are all kinds of casseroles — or hotdishes as people around here like to call them. Growing up, hamburger hotdish and tuna casserole were staples in our house and well as at the school hot lunch.

I make a lot of casseroles or hotdishes, and most of them are from scratch. Most recently, I fixed one that contained penne pasta as well as several vegetables from my garden, and it exceeded my expectations. I think that the coup de grace was the shredded Swiss cheese topping.

If the cooler weather and the snowflakes in the air have got you down, I suggest you give the recipe a try. I’m sure it will be of comfort and make you forget about winter.

Baked Penne Pasta Casserole
½ pound uncooked penne pasta
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10½-ounce can tomato soup
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons prepared pesto
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
Olive oil
Saute pepper, onion, garlic and celery in olive oil in sauce pan until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato soup, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to boil then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add pesto.
While sauce is cooking, prepare pasta according to package directions. When done, add to tomato sauce. When thoroughly mixed, place in greased casserole and bake at 350 degrees. After 20 minutes, top casserole with shredded cheese and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until top begins to brown.
Serve with salad and crusty bread.