Make and Bake Pasta

Sausage Penne

This time of year, with fewer hours of sunlight and more chance of cloudy days, I like to do my prep work the night before. If the atmospheric conditions are favorable I’m ready to pop dinner (or lunch) in the Sun Oven and if clouds roll in I use a conventional oven.

Baked Penne and Sausage

(adapted for the Sun Oven from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family)

Ingredients

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into matchsticks

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

2 Italian sausages, (pork, turkey, or chicken) casings removed

8 ounces whole-wheat penne

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat a 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes with their juices until mostly smooth, about 5 pulses.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the sausage, stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until no longer pink. Stir in the processed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente, slightly less than the time indicated on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the sauce and the reserved cooking water to the pasta, tossing to combine. Spread half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and a dark kitchen towel. Bake in the Sun Oven until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted, about 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

To Make Ahead

After draining the pasta, rinse it under cold water until cool. Assemble the dish as directed with cooled pasta, cooled sauce and pasta water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking in the Sun Oven.

Makes 4 servings.

Surprise Squash

Chili Squash

Stuffed squash is one of my favorite lunches. I really don’t follow a recipe when I make it. I just go with whatever leftovers I have in my fridge. It comes out different ever time. Today’s combo was surprisingly good.

Chili Stuffed Squash

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt

1 medium Kabocha squash

1/2 can (14-ounce) vegetarian chili

1/2 can (14-ounce) diced tomatoes with green chiles with juices

1/2 packet (3-ounce) tempeh, crumbled

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons orzo shaped pasta

1/4 cup water

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Cut off the top of the squash to make a lid. Scrape out and discard the seeds. Rub the inside of the squash with the olive oil, season with salt. Place the squash in a pot, set aside. In a large bowl combine the chili, diced tomatoes, tempeh, corn, garlic, and pasta. Spoon the mixture into the prepared squash. Pour in the water. Cover with the top part of the squash. Cook in the Sun Oven until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Use a large spoon to scoop filling and squash onto plates.

Makes 4 servings.

 

 

Classic Tomato Sauce with a Twist

Choco Sauce

While chocolate is used in al sorts of South American recipes it’s rarely an ingredient in savory Italian foods. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Surprise Solar Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 ounce dark chocolate (80% cocoa or more), chopped

1 carton (26-ounce) Pomi chopped tomatoes*

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Chopped fresh basil

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a medium pot, combine the oil, garlic, red pepper, chocolate, tomatoes, and salt. Cover with a dark kitchen towel and a lid. Cook in the Sun Oven until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour. Stir in the basil and adjust for salt. Serve with pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta.

*your favorite brand of crushed or strained tomatoes can also be used

Covered Pot

A kitchen towel placed under the lid will absorb any excess moisture and keep the sauce for getting watery.

 

Sun Oven Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Pumpkin Lasagna

This easy to assemble vegetarian lasagna is bursting with fall colors and flavors.

Pumpkin and Mushroom Lasagna

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

8 ounces fresh mushroom, sliced

2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup canned pumpkin

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage

pinch of ground nutmeg

6 no-boil lasagna noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms, stirring often, until softened; about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg. Spread 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture over the bottom of the prepared dish and top with 2 noodles. Spread 1/2 cup of the pumpkin over the noodles. Top with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the ricotta, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining 2 noodles and pumpkin sauce. Cover and bake in the Sun Oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Dust with additional Parmesan. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Sun Oven Lunch in No Time

Tortellini

A solar cooked lunch doesn’t get any easier than this. Just combine equal parts water and packaged dry tortellini in a pot. Cover, preferably with a glass lid, and cook in a preheated Sun Oven. Heat your favorite sauce in a separate pot next to or under the pot with the pasta. When the pasta has absorbed the water, usually after about 40 minutes,  it’s ready. Toss it with the sauce and enjoy. Dried tortellini can be found in the same aisle as regular pasta. I haven’t tried this with the refrigerated types of tortellini. I’m sure it would work, but imagine you’d need to use less water.

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Skinny Solar Mac and Cheese

Skinny Mac

A few years ago I was having dinner with a group of friends when the topic of disliked foods came up. Most of us were rather adventurous eaters so when we went around the table each naming the foods we did not enjoy the lists were rather short. I was the last to speak and mine were tofu and okra. And just about everyone agreed with me, quickly adding them to their own lists. I’m still working on finding a way to enjoy okra, but I have since learned that when tofu is used as an ingredient instead of the main attraction it’s not all that bad.

Sun Oven Mac’n’Cheese Surprise

Ingredients

1 pound shell or elbow whole wheat pasta

1 box (1 pound) silken tofu, drained

2 cups milk, (whole, 2%, or 1%)

2 tablespoons mustard

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cornstarch

6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions to al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, use an immersion blender to combine the tofu, milk, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper until smooth. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring often. When it starts to simmer, whisk in the cornstarch and then the Cheddar cheese. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Spread the pasta out in the prepared baking pan. Pour the sauce over the pasta. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs and parsley. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the pasta. Top with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake in the Sun Oven until browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Solar Roasted Veggies

Roast Veggies

Roast the vegetables during the day then combine with them pasta later for a lovely, solar-cooked dinner.

Sun Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

1 eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

salt

1 pound farfalle, rigatoni, or other pasta

1/2 cups fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line 3 baking racks or rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on two of the racks. Brush both sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt. Arrange the tomatoes and garlic on the remaining rack. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil over the tomatoes and garlic; season with salt. Stack the racks in the Sun Oven and cook until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, top racks will cook faster. Remove vegetables from the Sun Oven and cut the eggplant into pieces. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the pulp into a serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, mashing to combine. Stir in the basil and cheese. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the garlic mixture and toss with the eggplant and tomatoes. Add reserved cooking water as needed.

Makes 4 servings.

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

Lentil Sauce

This easy to prepare vegetarian pasta topping is a good alternative to traditional meat sauce. Unlike most pasta sauces, it tastes better when served over whole wheat pasta than white.

Easy Sun Oven Lentil Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional topping

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a large pot, combine the lentils and water. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the lentils from the Sun Oven and drain. In the same pot, combine the oil, garlic, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked lentils. Cover and return the pot to the Sun Oven. Continue cooking until heated through and the flavors have blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Tuna Casserole from Food Storage

Tuna CasseroleTuna Casserole

All the ingredients in this recipe came from food storage. We rotated out the oldest items from our shelves. On a 70 degree day, the sun came out in the afternoon. We started this at 3:30PM and cooked it until 5:30PM. Temperature held at 300 degrees. The casserole was nice and bubbly hot throughout and the flavors were well blended.

Ingredients

3 – 5 oz White tuna canned in water, drained
1 – 12 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
2 – 15 oz cans of baby peas, drained
16 oz. macaroni or wide egg noodles, pre-boiled
2 TBS capers
1 – 4 oz. jar pimentos
15 oz. mayonaise
White pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the Sun Oven® while mixing the ingredients. Mix the ingredients lightly in a bowl. Place in a greased casserole dish and top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake in the Sun Oven for two hours ’til hot and bubbly. These ingredients will make two 9×12″ casseroles. Cook one today and save the other in your refrigerator for a couple of days. It will be welcome a second time.

Solar Baked Stuffed Shells

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