Pasta al Forno

Monday, January 9, 2023
Pasta al Forno is an Italian baked pasta dish which simply means that it consists of layers of rich meat sauce and melted mozzarella cheese and is the ultimate comfort food.

This easy-to-assemble pasta dish is very flavorful, and more of the Sicilian style than many others that use a white sauce called bechamel which is a different version.

There are many Regions that make this a bit different and this is the way mom made our using eggplant, sausage, boiled egg, and meatballs mixed with veal and pork.

We love Regional style dishes from Rome like our  Rigatoni alla Zozzona, and other Roman-style dishes we make often  Cacio e Pepe and of course the fabulous Carbonara all-Roman versions and my grandmother's recipes from Rome, Italy.

Although you can adapt your Pasta al Forno with whatever your Regional recipe requires, we like ours loaded with ricotta and cheese, much more similar to a layered lasagna.

Mom always used whole tomatoes then crushed them then added some tomato puree that made a very rich thick sauce.

Scroll down to our printable recipe card for our easy-to-follow instructions.


rigatoni pasta al forno with eggplant, meatballs and sausage





Pasta al Forno A Little History


I think mom's version was created with a little of this and a little of that meaning she used lots of leftovers and prepared this pasta dish to feed a large hungry family.

Usually prepared for birthdays and large family gatherings, this style of pasta dish was always a huge hit and satisfied everyone.

Pasta al Forno really dates back to the late Middle Ages and Renaissance when these dishes were served at palaces of the nobles and banquet functions.

Later on, Italy started serving and preparing this meal in just about every Region.

Currently this dish is still popular a southern Italy and a staple in many towns in Sicily, and Campania areas.

As I mentioned earlier the variations of how this dish is prepared depended on what you have on hand, but also what Region it's prepared from.


collage for pasta al forno recipe


Pasta Suggestions

  1. rigatoni
  2. bowties
  3. mostaccioli
  4. fusilli
  5. seashells
  6. penne
  7. bucatini


rigatoni al forno


Tips

  • cook any kind of pasta you prefer al dente
  • always salt the cubed eggplant and drain it on paper towels before cooking it
  • use only imported tomatoes
  • bake the meatballs, sliced sausage, and eggplant first
  • use only fresh herbs
  • for a sweeter sauce add a carrot and remove when the sauce is cooked
  • whole milk ricotta should be strained (we use a coffee filter and let it sit around 10 minutes)
  • use only Pecorino Romano freshly grated cheese do not use pre-grated cheeses for best results
  • use a good-tasting red wine that you would drink not inexpensive wine and not a sweet wine
  • top with more mozzarella and broil for a crispier cheese topping



meat sauce


Ingredients in this recipe you will need(for exact measurements scroll to the printable recipe card)

  • rigatoni or penne
  • use a combination of beef, veal, and pork ground for meatballs
  • crushed tomatoes and tomato puree
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • red wine 
  • eggs
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh basil
  • whole milk
  • bread (Italian not sandwich-style white bread)
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • ricotta
  • Italian sausage
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • red pepper flakes


meat and cheese layered rigatoni


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Mom's Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

Pasta and Broccoli Aioli

Homemade Orecchiette


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Serving Pasta al Forno Classic Pasta Dishes



This dish is perfect for bringing to a family gathering to feed a large crowd or potlucks.


Our version of this meal is loaded with rich blends of layered meats, cheese, and even that popularly loved vegetable called eggplant refer to the suggestions to make the changes your family prefers.


Remember, all Regions do make it a bit different so if you're wondering why something you're accustomed to is missing from our recipe, adapt away.


Enjoy this culinary experience it will surely be easy to feed a large hungry crowd who loves Italian food.


Pasta al Forno

Pasta al Forno
Yield: 12
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 1 H & 10 MTotal time: 1 H & 30 M
This baked penne or rigatoni is layered with tomato sauce, eggplant; small meatballs; hard-boiled eggs; ground meat and three kinds of cheese.

Ingredients

  • Meatball Mixture:
  • 2 pounds of a combination of ground beef, veal and pork
  • 2 slices of day-old bread (Italian bread not soft sandwich bread)
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 2/3 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • 2 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Marinara Sauce:
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes or (whole tomatoes put through a food processor)
  • 1 28-ounce can of tomato puree
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 dry red wine
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes is optional
  • Pasta Layering Ingredients:
  • 1 small eggplant cubed leaving strips (salted and drained on paper towels)
  • 2 links of Italian sweet sausage cut into pieces
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella
  • Ricotta Mixture:
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • salt pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of penne pasta or rigatoni ( you can use whatever you prefer in your cupboard for pasta)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 430 degrees.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or oil sprayed.
  3. Add the milk to the bread and soak it for 10 minutes.
  4. To a bowl add the meat, soaked bread, cheese, garlic, eggs, herb, salt, pepper, cayenne, and any other spices you may like and mix together.
  5. Roll into small balls, add to a baking sheet and bake for around 20 minutes or until browned and crispy outside.
  6. Cubed the eggplant, place on paper towels with a small amount of salt sprinkled evenly on top, and let drained for 30 minutes then rinse it off and blot dry.
  7. On the 2nd sheet add cubed eggplant and cut up links of sausage and bake that for around 25 minutes.
  8. In a medium-sized saucepot, add the olive oil and saute the garlic for one minute. Add the tomatoes, basil, wine, salt, and pepper, red pepper flakes and simmer for around 40 minutes on low heat.
  9. In a bowl add the ricotta, cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic powder and mix all together.
  10. Cook the pasta in salt water to package instructions al dente.
  11. Boil the eggs and slice them then cool.
  12. In a 13 x 9 baking dish.
  13. Layer starting with sauce, half the pasta, and randomly in no particular order add sausage, eggplant cubes, meatballs, a dollop so ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, and more sauce.
  14. Place sliced eggs randomly on top of that mixture then cover with the rest of the pasta.
  15. Pour more sauce to cover all the pasta then shredded mozzarella on top ( use more to cover the top if you love cheese).
  16. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and more chopped fresh basil.
  17. Bake for around 30 minutes until the cheese melts, then I usually broil the top to get some crispy edges and brown the cheese.
  18. Let sit around 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

Tips

  • cook any kind of pasta you prefer al dente
  • always salt the cubed eggplant and drain it on paper towels before cooking it
  • use only imported tomatoes
  • bake the meatballs, sliced sausage, and eggplant first
  • use only fresh herbs
  • for a sweeter sauce add a carrot and remove when the sauce is cooked
  • whole milk ricotta should be strained (we use a coffee filter and let it sit around 10 minutes)
  • use only Pecorino Romano freshly grated cheese do not use pre-grated cheeses for best results
  • use a good-tasting red wine that you would drink not inexpensive wine and not a sweet wine
  • top with more mozzarella and broil for a crispier cheese topping


Pasta Suggestions

  1. rigatoni
  2. bowties
  3. mostaccioli
  4. fusilli
  5. seashells
  6. penne
  7. bucatini



Nutrition Facts

Calories

666.8

Fat (grams)

36.14

Sat. Fat (grams)

14.39

Carbs (grams)

45.63

Fiber (grams)

5.17

Net carbs

40.48

Sugar (grams)

9.16

Protein (grams)

34.62

Sodium (milligrams)

632.8

Cholesterol (grams)

171.47
pasta al forno, baked rigatoni with meat and cheeses, baked penne with meat and cheese, sicilian pasta, pasta with meat and boiled eggs with cheese
pasta recipes, gourmet Italian pasta recipes, Italian meat recipes, Sicilian pasta recipes, pasta with tomato sauce recipes
Italian


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pin for later how to make Pasta al forno


More Recipes To Try


Cacio e Pepe

Tomato Basil Pasta

Amatriciana

Rigatoni alla Zozzona


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1 comment

Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia