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Harvest Thyme Rigatoni With Apples, Ham & Cheese
Betty Jean Nichols, Eugene, Ore.

Makes 8 servings

16 ounces rigatoni
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sweet onions, peeled, chopped
1 (26-ounce) jar onion and garlic pasta sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced, fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups mozzarella cheese, divided (1 pound), divided
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, chopped
3 cups red-skinned cooking apples, shredded
1/2 pound country ham (fully baked or country cured), cut into thin 1-inch strips
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions just until tender, about 2 minutes. Add pasta sauce, thyme and black pepper; heat through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add 3 cups mozzarella cheese, rigatoni, spinach, apples, ham and Romano cheese; mix well. Turn into a greased 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Cover tightly; bake in preheated 375-degree oven, until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

Uncover; top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake 3 more minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with walnuts and garnish with thyme sprigs.

*To toast walnuts, spread walnuts on baking pan and bake in 350-degree oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving: 625 calories, 24 g protein, 80 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 25 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 154 mcg folate, 4 mg iron, 1065 mg sodium.