Creamy Pasta Bake with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Friday, January 5, 2018


1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 (6 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch white sugar
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/4 cups shredded Romano cheese
1 small bunch fresh basil, finely chopped


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion until soft and translucent while penne is cooking, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add cream and Parmesan cheese and season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Preheat oven to 375 deg. Grease a baking dish. Stir some pasta cooking water into the sauce and add cooked penne. Remove from heat and stir in cherry tomatoes, 1/2 the Romano cheese, and basil. Pour penne mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with remaining Romano cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted and the dish is hot through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.