A recent visit from my mother reminded me that I didn’t always have the ability to cook a meal. Claiming that cheese on toast and a bacon sandwich doesn’t count (you be the judge), she insisted that I cook for her during her visit. Naturally, I obliged. However, during that meal I came to realize that I had in fact cooked for her—I was vindicated. There was one dish, a dish that I have cooked a lot, but not in recent years.
A salami-mozzarella casserole bake. Ha. It isn’t a fancy dish or a dish to impress, but in these cooler months ahead it is one to add to your chili or soup collection. It’s filling and flavorful, and incredibly addictive.
It’s been over 15 years since I first cooked this dish. I can’t tell you where the recipe came from; it certainly wasn’t something I created myself and it preceded most Internet recipes. I can’t even recall the original ingredients as it’s one of those recipes you can alter to whatever suits your taste—which I have done over the years—so long as you keep the three key ingredients: salami, tomatoes and mozzarella.
Salami Mozzarella Bake
2 green peppers, sliced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 16oz cans of San Marzano, diced tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
12oz salami (thinly sliced—the packaged sliced salami from the supermarket will do just fine, no need to go overboard with the expensive stuff)
1.5lbs rigatoni pasta (macaroni or ziti are good substitutes)
8oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
Heat a few tablespoons of EVOO in a deep sautee pan. Add the garlic, mushrooms and green peppers and cook until slightly soft, usually around 6-8 minutes.
Pour in the San Marzano tomatoes and tomato puree, stir and bring to a simmer.
Slowly mix in the salami, ensuring that the slices don’t clump together, covering with the tomato sauce as you continue to stir. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, for up to an hour.
Boil the rigatoni until firm, not overcooking the pasta. Pour the pasta into a baking dish, up to two-thirds of the way up. Pour over the tomato mixture, ensuring all the pasta is covered from edge to edge, topping with the mozzarella slices.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Serve with a crisp ciabatta loaf.