marisa mariella

easy mouthwatering recipes that unite your family and friends

Pasta al forno

Pasta al forno is a perfect recipe for dinner parties! Everything is assembled earlier in the day (or the night before) and baked just as your guests are arriving. This means that all your pots and pans have already been cleaned and put away. The other aspect of this recipe that makes it so ideal is the number of variations. My mother added zucchini and potatoes while my mother-in-law added mortadella. I love adding broccoli because it contributes nutrients and flavour. Did I mention that this dish actually tastes better as a leftover? The day after it's baked, the flavours and aromas mingle and offer a full-bodied taste. How will your guests feel about eating leftovers? One taste and they’ll understand. If you are looking for my recipe for tomato sauce and meatballs, please check my website. If you are using store-bought tomato sauce, buy the best quality. I like recommending That Guys Sauce Tomato Sauce for its clean authentic Italian taste. https://thatguyssauces.com/pages/purchasing-locations
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course dinner, Lunch, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients
  

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 - 2 heads of broccoli ends trimmed and washed
  • 1 500g package orecchiette or rigatoni or penne
  • 7 - 8 cups tomato sauce with generous amount of meatballs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup cubed mozzarella or Friulano cheese
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven 350F.
  • Place a large pot of water to boil. Salt generously.
  • In the meantime, peel the main stalks of the broccoli to make it less fibrous. Slice them into ½” pieces. Separate the florets and cut them into 2” pieces. Set aside.
  • When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Stir and bring the water back to a boil. Add the broccoli and bring the water back to a boil. Cook, stirring often until pasta is almost cooked. Keep it slightly undercooked as it will continue to cook in the oven. (If you use penne or rigatoni, add the pasta and broccoli to the boiling water at the same time.)
  • As the pasta and broccoli are cooking, cut the meatballs into bite-size pieces.
  • Drain the pasta and broccoli well. Return to the pot. Add half of the sauce, meatballs, and garlic. Gently toss to coat well. Add the Parmigiano, mozzarella, and basil. Stir to combine.
  • In a large roasting pan, ladle some of the sauce.
  • Add the pasta mixture to spread evenly in the pan. Nestle heaping tablespoons of ricotta in the pasta. Ladle the remaining sauce on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with some Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Cover tightly with foil. Place in the oven and bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. If you prefer crunchy pasta edges, remove the foil in the last 15 minutes.
  • Serve hot. (If you are reheating, sprinkle a little water on the surface and cover tightly with foil. Heat until 165°F is reached. Keep some hot tomato sauce to add when serving.)

Notes

If you are looking for my recipe for tomato sauce and meatballs, please check my website. If you are using store-bought tomato sauce, buy the best quality you can find. I like recommending That Guys Sauce Tomato Sauce for its clean authentic Italian taste. The meatballs can be made of beef, veal, and/or pork or use only ground chicken or turkey. Even the amounts of ingredients are meant as a guideline, giving you the opportunity to create your own.  Yup… like I said...lots of variation. Test out different variations until you land on your favourite combination.  
Keyword al forno, broccoli, cream cheese, Meatballs, mozzarella, orecchiete, pasta, tomato sauce