Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

This delicious dinner happened because I did not have hamburger buns!  I wanted to use 4 cups of leftover pulled pork, which we usually pile on a bun with a spicy slaw for hearty sandwiches.  There were no sandwich buns in the pantry, but we did have a variety of dried pasta, including an interesting artisanal pasta made in Gragnano, Italy called Gnocchi Napoletani. It almost seemed a shame to combine a leftover with such a fancy pasta, but I did and the results were wonderful.  This pasta dish is not heavy with cheeses and buttery sauces so the flavors are bright.

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup red wine

fresh thyme sprigs, 2 for chopping, and 2 for garnish

2  cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped teaspoon plus extra oregano sprigs for garnish

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if you like more heat

3/4 pound pasta, preferably orecchiette, or gnocchi (unfilled) – shell shape holds sauce

1/2 cup grated or flaked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta al dente, only about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to brown.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over low heat. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add 4 cups of pulled pork and cooked pasta.  Pour all into large baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.

Cover and place in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until all is heated through. Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.  Serve hot, with crusty bread and a green salad.

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