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Now reading Bonito del Norte Toasted Pasta Casserole

Bonito del Norte Toasted Pasta Casserole

A practical and elegant make-ahead Spanish casserole.

We teamed up with Sonos to throw a #PlaylistPotluck at Editorial Director Peter Meehan’s NYC apartment, where guests RSVP-ed by adding songs to the night’s soundtrack. Check out the playlist here, and read on for one of the night’s excellent recipes from chef Alex Raij.

This is a kitchen-sink pasta dish that marries the lessons of a typical Midwestern hot dish with toasted-noodle paella like the fideua at my restaurants La Vara and El Quinto Pino.

Feel free to break down this recipe and do it in stages; you can make it ahead and then just bake it off or reheat it. Every time you do, you will be rewarded with chewy crunchy surface bits.

Ingredients

  • 2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs Ditali or similar tiny tube or ribbed shell pasta (I like Setaro brand)
  • 1 C strained or flaked Bonito del Norte from a jar or a can (we like Ortiz brand or Serrat), 3 T of the oil reserved
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • + kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • 1 anchovy
  • 1 T best-quality tomato paste
  • 5 C neutral fish or shrimp stock
  • 1-2 C tomato sauce
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T picked fresh oregano
  • 1/2 C chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • + zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 C aioli

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Place a colander or strainer over a medium pot or bain marie. Combine the 2 cups of olive oil and all of the pasta in a heavy-bottomed enamel pot, and place over medium-low heat. Stir the pasta until it is an even golden brown, then carefully pour into the colander to strain out the oil. (Do not let the pasta get too dark—the pasta will carry over to a slightly more chestnut color.) You can do this a day ahead.

  2. Heat the 3 tablespoons of reserved tuna-oil in the same pot over medium heat. Sweat the onions until translucent, adding salt to taste. Stir in the peppers and a bit more salt, and cook until soft.

  3. Add the anchovy to the pot, and stir until it melts. Raise the heat and add the tomato paste, stirring constantly until it takes on a rusty color. Add the stock, season generously with salt, and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Stir in the toasted pasta.

  4. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until the pasta it is semi soft and has absorbed the liquid, about 12 minutes.

  5. Add the tomato sauce, crushed pepper, oregano, tuna, and parsley and lemon zest, and stir gently. Fold in the alioli and bake, uncovered, until brown and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Finish with more parsley.