Project Description

Pasta Al Forno

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Quantity
8-10 Servings
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Difficulty Level
Easy
Active Prep
Active Prep
30 min
Total Time
Total Time
2 hours

You’ve got time. Pasta al forno reigns as the ultimate comfort food in many parts of Italy. Essentially translating to “baked pasta” or “pasta in the oven” it can refer to lasagne, stuffed pasta or a baked casserole of lovingly sauced noodles mixed with mini meatballs or even hard-boiled eggs. Our version offers little gold mines of cubed sopressata along with a rich and creamy tomato-besciamella-ricotta based sauce. This may take awhile to prepare and assemble, but for something this good, make the time.

Directions

Prepare the Pomodoro sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

for the cheese mixture
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly stream in the milk while continuing to whisk, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute longer, until the sauce is smooth and about the consistency of heavy cream.

Remove from heat and whisk in the grated Parmigiano, stirring until the cheese has melted and is well incorporated. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, soppressata and season with salt and pepper to taste.

for the dish
Cook the pasta about 2 minutes less than directed on the package, maintaining a very al dente texture. Drain well and add to the bowl with the cheese mixture.

Reserve half the sauce and add remaining sauce to the bowl of cheese and pasta. Barely stir everything together, leaving streaks of tomato sauce through the mixture.

Ladle half of the reserved pomodoro sauce into baking dish, spreading to coat the bottom. Fill with the pasta mixture, spreading to evenly fill the dish. Spoon remaining pomodoro sauce over the top. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until bubbling. Turn on the broiler and broil for 1 minute to brown and crisp the top, if desired. Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

pomodoro sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 28-ounce cans peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 basil leaves, torn

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the basil immediately before assembling the pasta dish.

Ingredients

the cheese mixture

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • 8 ounces sopressata, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

the dish

  • 1 recipe Pomodoro Sauce (recipe follows) or 4 cups prepared sauce, see Cook’s Note
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta

special equipment

  • a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 9-by-11-inch extra-deep baking dish