I first mentioned this recipe, Tater Tot Bake with Mozzarella and Spicy Marinara, in my third blog post (and first recipe post) back in January, when I wrote about another recipe in The Good, the Bad and the Yummy. And I have honestly been thinking about it ever since and waiting for a good opportunity to make it.
Last Saturday, Nate was out of town, and my friend Ann came over for a girls night, complete with tasty food, a few bottles of wine and movies we used to watch in high school ("Romeo + Juliet" and "Empire Records," for those wondering). I thought it would be a good opportunity to make the tater tot bake.
It turned out just as good as I thought it would. It's so simple and very tasty. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I didn't use quite 1/2 teas. crushed red pepper and I added some fresh basil to the sauce, since I have so much of it. I think if I made this again (and I'd like to!) I'd add some veggies to up the nutrition--I'm thinking spinach, eggplant, zucchini ...
Tater Tot Bake with Mozzarella and Spicy Marinara
1 32-oz. package frozen tater tots
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
1/2 teas. salt, plus more to taste
a few grindings black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 teas. crushed red pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Bake tater tots according to package directions, removing the potatoes from the oven a few minutes before they're golden brown.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and fry the onions until tender and light gold. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, breaking them apart with a spatula. Add salt, pepper and red pepper and bring sauce to a simmer. (This is when I added the basil.) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened, about 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasonings if you like.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large, wide baking dish (I sprayed bottom with cooking spray), layer half tots with half the sauce and half mozzarella. Repeat to form the second layer, and top with mozzarella and a few grindings of pepper.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Let cool before eating.
The top is a little more brown than it probably should be--I didn't hear the timer go off and have no idea how long it actually cooked!