Baked Gnocchi

1 lb bacon; diced and sautéed until crispy
4 cloves garlic; minced
pinch crushed red pepper
28 ounces diced roasted tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces sliced mushrooms; sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese crumbles
2 cups baby spinach leaves
32 ounces gnocchi; prepared according to package directions
2 cups shredded mozzarella or your favorite Italian, melty cheese (we use pecorino tuscano)

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel covered plate and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat. Gently sauté garlic and crushed red pepper for 30 seconds.  Carefully add tomatoes.  Sauté, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.  Add mushroom, goat cheese, and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir until spinach has just wilted.  Stir in prepared gnocchi. Spoon into a 9 x 13 casserole pan.  Top with cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

If you can find diced pancetta, use that instead of bacon--it is that much more delicious!

Creamy Tomato Pasta

1 pound penne or spiral maccaroni
2 14 oz cans roasted diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic; minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil or 1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz semi soft goat cheese; crumbled
1/2 cup grated peccorino romano

Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to al dente directions.  While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan until it begins to sizzle.  Add tomatoes, garlic, sugar, basil and salt and let simmer until pasta is ready.  Drain pasta and add to the sauce.  Add goat cheese and stir until combined and creamy.  Pour into a casserole pan and top with romano cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Gourmet Three Cheese Mac 'n Cheese

1 pound shaped pasta (I used cellentani) cooked according to package directions. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour drained pasta into large baking dish.

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
black pepper to taste
salt to taste
2 TBSP whole grain mustard
5 cups milk
12 ounces grated sharp white cheddar
6 ounces grated smoked Guyere
6 ounces cubed Fontina
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

In a heavy sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. When foaming subsides add flour and whisk until smooth and mixture takes on a bit of color (about 5 minutes). Add salt, pepper, mustard, stir until combined. Slowly add cold milk, whisking vigorously to break down any lumps. Stir constantly until béchamel begins to thicken. Add all but 1 cup of grated cheeses and all of the fontina cheese. Stir until cheese is melted, adding pasta water as needed to keep sauce from becoming too thick and gooey. Taste frequently and season as needed with salt. Stir sauce into drained pasta. In a medium bowl toss remaining shredded cheese and bread crumbs together. Sprinkle cheese and crumb mixture over the top of the macaroni dish. Broil in oven until cheese topping melts and crumbs turn a golden brown, approximately 10 minutes, but watch very closely to make sure the topping does not burn. Serve immediately. This served our family of 8, some even had seconds, and we had enough leftover for several of the children to have for lunch the next day.

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