Baked Penne Pasta is one of the easiest weeknight dinner ideas available. In fact, it can be made ahead, frozen, and cooked in the oven later.
For this meal, you will need:
- One box of penne pasta
- One jar of spaghetti sauce
- Ground beef or ground turkey (optional)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
If using ground beef or ground turkey, cook it in a skillet. Drain off any fat and rinse the meat with cold water.
Combine the cooked pasta, jar of spaghetti sauce, cooked meat, and shredded mozzarella cheese together in a large bowl. Mix well. Press the mixture into the glass baking dish. Top with additional cheese and bake until the top layer of cheese is bubbly.
Calories in a tablespoon of olive oil are about equal the amount in a tablespoon of other vegetable oils, but because of its rich taste, you will not use as much.
The “fats” from olive oil are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which have been found to lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood which is much better than saturated fats, like butter or palm or coconut oils, which cause cholesterol levels to rise. A 10 year investigation carried out by the University of Minnesota into the relationship between heart disease and the fat in 7 national diets, revealed that Italians and Greeks who are heavy consumers of olive oil have one of the lowest rates of heart disease!
The quality of olive oil depends very much on the region it was produced in. The best olive oils come from the southern region of Apulia or the central regions of Latium, Umbria, and Tuscany.
Unfortunately in Italy the law does not require that an olive oil packer use only the oil produced in his area. Therefore, the geographic name on a label may sometimes relate only to the address of the plant, not to the region of production. The contents of the bottle or can, although legitimately labeled “extra virgin” may be a lesser quality oil from elsewhere. Your best bet is to try different oils and let your taste buds tell you which flavor you prefer. When you find one or two that you really like, stay with them. A good olive oil should “coat with flavor, not with grease”.
Oil that exceeds 4% oleic acid may be adjusted to edible levels by adding such solvents like trichloroethylene that reduces the acid, then it is blended with some virgin oil to improve its taste. It can then be called Olio d'Oliva or as most producers label it, Pure Olive Oil.