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)
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
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.