Pasta al forno (Oven-Baked Pasta)
Here is a classic ‘Monday’ dish or Italian Comfort Food. It is well-known that Italians have homemade pasta on Sundays, as well that we cook for “armies” which are our large families. That means that we have leftovers that are forbidden to be disposed! This is why we would put our leftover pasta in the oven on Mondays, with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to get what we call “Pasta al forno”! Here’s a recipe that explains the simple process. We recommend Rigatoni if making this from scratch, but if you have leftover pasta, this is what you would use!
340 gr (12 oz) dry Rigatoni pasta
700 ml (2 2/3 cups) bottled tomato ‘passata’ or sauce
3 tbsp of Italian soffritto (½ finely chopped carrot, ½ finely chopped onion, ½ finely chopped celery stalk)
Mediterranean Sea Salt
3 leaves of fresh basil
200 gr (7 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese (chopped in cubes)
200 gr (7 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
100 gr (3.5 oz) fresh smoked Scamorza (or Provola)
11 x 7 inch rectangular baking pan with high edges
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C/350 °F.
Coat the bottom of a medium-sized pot with EVOO. Add three tbsp of ‘soffritto’ and brown over medium heat. Once browned, pour in the tomato ‘passata’. Season with salt and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, turn the burner off and add the chopped basil leaves. Stir to “dissolve” the aroma into the sauce.
While the sauce is cooking, cut the Scamorza (or Provola) in round and thin slices. Set aside.
Add Salt to the boiling water, then pour in the Rigatoni dry pasta. Cook for 2/3 of the indicated cooking time. Drain the Rigatoni of the water and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the Rigatoni with the tomato sauce, then add the parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese cubes. Mix with a large spoon. Pour the sauced Pasta into a 11 x 7 inch rectangular baking pan with high edges. Cover the whole top surface with Scamorza slices and bake at 180 °C/350 °F for 20-25 minutes (the top Scamorza surface should be completely melted and browned at the end of the cooking).
As is the Italian tradition, this dish pairs perfectly with a red table wine!