Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in Houston, Texas in 1986. The restaurant features hand-prepared family recipes made from the finest ingredients and prepared to order in an exhibition kitchen. The success of Carrabba's led to the popular PBS cooking show Cucina!, starring Carrabba and Mandola, as well as a series of companion cookbooks. There are currently 240 Carrabba's Italian Grill locations around the country.

Offering Italian-inspired cuisine passed down from our founders’ family recipes, Carrabba’s uses only the best ingredients to prepare fresh and handmade dishes cooked to order in a lively exhibition kitchen. Featuring a wood-burning grill inspired by the many tastes of Italy, customers can enjoy signature dishes, including Chicken Bryan, Spiedino di Mare and a fresh twist on an Italian Classic, Wood-grilled Chicken Marsala. Carrabba’s was voted #1 Italian in the 2014 Consumer Picks Survey by Nation’s Restaurant News.

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Baked Pasta

Baked Pasta

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 8-10

Ragu:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound boneless veal round, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, chopped medium
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
6 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups canned Italian tomatoes, passed through a food mill fitted with its smallest holes
5 cups water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound Italian sausage

Filling:
6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 medium zucchini, washed, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely-chopped Italian parsley
1 pound fresh mushrooms, shiitake, cremini, or white domestic or mix of these, wiped clean, sliced 1/4 inch (shiitake stems discarded)
1 pound fresh or frozen peas

Assembly:
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 pounds pasta tubes, such as anelletti, ditali or ditalini
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs
2 ounces sliced salami, 1/16 inch thick, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons softened butter for dotting
extra Romano cheese, grated

To Prepare The Ragu:  In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Season the pork and veal with salt and pepper and, when the oil is very hot, add to the pot and brown meat well on all sides. Add the onions to the meat and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and start to brown. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add the pureed tomatoes and the water, bring the contents to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Season ragu with salt, black pepper, and red pepper and simmer sauce partially covered for 1 hour. Remove the sausage from it's casing and break into 1-inch pieces. Add the sausage to the simmering ragu and cook 30 more minutes. Turn off heat and set ragu aside.

To Prepare The Filling:  When ragu is in the last 30 minutes of simmering place 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed lightly, over medium heat in a large skillet.

When the oil is very hot and the garlic starts to brown, remove and discard garlic and add the zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is browned and cooked through. Add half the parsley. Transfer cooked zucchini to a plate or pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and the others 2 cloves of garlic lightly crushed, over medium heat. When the oil is very hot and the garlic starts to brown, remove and discard garlic and add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Add the remaining parsley.

Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a plate or pan. If using fresh peas, boil in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and submerge in ice water immediately, drain and set aside. If using frozen peas, thaw and set aside.

To Assemble:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Bring 10 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add the salt. Cook the pasta in the water until 2 minutes from al dente. Meanwhile, butter a large deep casserole and coat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs.

When the pasta is done , drain and toss it in a bowl with 1/2 the ragu. Transfer 1/4 of the pasta to the bottom of the casserole. Top with a little of the extra ragu. Distribute the zucchini over the pasta and cover with 1/3 of the grated Romano and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 of the pasta, a little sauce, the mushrooms, and remaining Romano and Mozzarella cheeses.

Cover with the last 1/4 of the pasta, a little sauce, top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. Serve, passing extra Romano cheese.

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