July 11, 2013 • 11:17:24 a.m.

Chef Debi: Pasta bake turns classic caprese salad into a meal

One of my favorite dishes in the summer is caprese salad, so I decided to make it into a fresh and healthy baked dish. Fresh tomatoes are not quite ready, but small cherry tomatoes are available. Fresh tomatoes, organic basil and mozzarella makes this dish full of delicious summer flavors. 

Caprese Pasta Bake 

1 pound small shell pasta    

4 cups tomato sauce   

1 cup heavy cream  

1 cup white wine    

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated    

Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)

Salt and pepper, used generously  

1 pound ground turkey, cooked and drained    

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved  

7 ounces small balls of fresh mozzarella

6-8 fresh organic basil leaves, cut into strips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta for about 1 minute less than called for in the package directions.    

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the tomato sauce with the cream and the wine. Add half of the Parmesan and crushed red pepper. Generously salt and pepper, and cook until the cheese melts, stirring often.    

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to its pot. Stir in the turkey, tomatoes, and about half of the mozzarella and basil. Add the tomato sauce and stir well to combine.    

Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese begins to brown.    

Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before sprinkling with the remaining basil and serving.

• Chef Debi Stuckwisch is the owner of Meals Like Mom’s Personal Chef service in McHenry County. She can be reached at 847-778-9351 or mealslikemoms@comcast.net, or visit www.mealslikemom.com.

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