Do you remember the time before you knew how to cook?
Do you remember when everything had to come from a box or a can, or it wouldn’t get eaten?
I learned to cook in grad school because I was going insane. I didn’t have the money to survive if I didn’t cook some of my own food (at one point I had $20 a week to cover everything-food, medical, travel, all of it). I was also so overworked that I had to have downtime but it had to be something I could justify taking time away from my thesis for-so cooking fit that bill.
But the thing is, you have to start somewhere. I think that some people are capable of jumping in with both feet and making complex dishes, the same way that some people are capable of knitting socks for their first project. Most of us have to make baby steps.
Here’s a basic pasta bake recipe that’s cheap, easy, and filling. It also makes a lot of food, so if you need to feed a crowd, this is a great way to do it.
1 jar tomato sauce-of your choice (if you feel really adventurous, making your own isn’t that much harder than buying it)
1-1 lb box of dry ziti
1 small container ricotta
1/2 block of mozarella cheese, sliced thinly
1/2 roma tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
13×9 baking pan
Preheat oven to 350
Fill your pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt if desired.
Once your water is boiled, add the entire box of pasta. Boil for six minutes, stirring occasionally.
While your pasta is boiling, coat the bottom of the pan with a little bit of sauce and some of your ricotta.
When the pasta has finished, strain and add to pan, making sure to spread it around the pan so it’s not one solid pasta block.
Cover with your remaining sauce and some of the ricotta. With your spoon, spread around so the top of the pasta is fully covered.
Place your sliced cheese on top, spaced evenly. Top with tomato slices if desired.
Cover pan with foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving.