OVEN BAKED PASTA RECIPE (pasta al forno)
Pasta al forno can add a different dimension to your normal pasta dish and is a firm favourite for the Italians, usually consumed on the Sunday or on a bank holiday with the family. There are so many variations ranging from the sauce, a simple tomatoe sauce or a with the addition of meat such as a ragu’ or a béchamel sauce typical from the North of Italy, to the type of pasta used, short or medium penne, maccheroni, tortiglioni etc.
The process is very easy to make too, the pasta is cooked al dente, it is then mixed with the sauce and placed in a roasting tray where it must be evenly distributed and layered, adding either mozzarella or provolone, or ragu sauce and béchamel with each layer, the Sicilian version adds fried aubergine in between each layer. It is then finished off with a parmesan cheese as this will form a lovely crunchy crust.
Below is our recipe of pasta al forno, Mamma made this on Sunday and it was buonissimo.
Remember the beauty of this dish is that you can add whatever ingredient you prefer, even the left overs from the night before and there are no exact measurements, just play by eye.
We used a bag of penne and cooked them al dente usually 5 to 6 minutes instead of the 8 to10 minutes it takes to cook pasta and drained the water.
To accompany the sauce we made a homemade béchamel sauce with flour, butter, nutmeg and milk and cooked in the microwave, keep mixing to avoid lumps and cook until the consistency is thick.
In a bowl mix the pasta with the tomato sauce.
Now to assemble, in a roasting pan line with butter to stop the pasta from sticking, a layer of evenly distributed pasta.
Then add a couple of tablespoons of béchamel, salt and pepper and a few strands of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, repeat the process until you finish the ingredients, at this point you should have approx. 3 to 4 layers of pasta, béchamel and mozzarella.
Finish the top layer with a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a few knobs of butter this will make it crunchy and delicious. Place in the oven at 180 degrees and cook between 30 to40 minutes depending how crunchy you want your topping.