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Every time I look to feed a crowd, I turn to baked pasta like spinach lasagna, chicken parmesan pasta, or this cheesy meaty Pasta al Forno. This pasta dish always receives rave reviews from family and friends!
Every time I go to my local Italian restaurant, I order Pasta al Forno. You can't go wrong with a bubbly hot pasta dish! My version of this dish is loaded with flavor and tastes even better than what you would get at a restaurant.
What is the Al Forno style?
Al Forno is an Italian phrase that refers to foods that were baked in the oven. This term generally applies to dishes like pizza, pasta, and breads like focaccia. In this particular case, Pasta al Forno refers to baked pasta, often topped with melted cheese.
How is Pasta made forno?
Start by making the sauce, which consists of sauteed Italian sausage, marinara sauce, garlic, and onion. Then boil the pasta until al dente, then mix the cooked pasta with the sausage mixture. Place the pasta in a baking dish, then add a generous layer of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake the covered pasta, then uncovered, until the cheese is melted and browned. Add a pinch of fresh parsley, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect pasta.
- I usually prepare this dish with rigatoni, but any short pasta will work as a penne, ziti, rotini, or fusilli.
- Skip the pre-cut cheese in bags and grate your own mozzarella. I find that previously grated cheeses are often coated with preservatives and anti-caking agents, and don't melt as smoothly.
- This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours before you plan to bake it. You may need to add another 10-15 minutes to the cook time to make up for the start with a cold saucepan.
- Leftover pasta will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat the leftover pasta on a covered plate to 325 degrees F until heated through, or reheat individual servings in the microwave.
- While I usually make this dish with mild Italian sausage, the hot sausage will work well, too.
Flavor variations from pasta to forno
This Pasta al Forno recipe is delicious as written, but you can easily customize it to your liking.
- Protein: Instead of Italian sausages, you can use ground beef, ground turkey, diced chicken, or even quarter-cut meatballs.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add some cooked vegetables to the sauce, like spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, or bell peppers.
- Flavorings: Looking to amplify the flavor? Add a handful of olives, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or a drizzle of heavy cream.
- Cheese: Instead of mozzarella, don't hesitate to change another type of cheese like fontina or provolone.
Can you freeze pasta in the oven?
This pasta dish is a great candidate for the freezer, I usually assemble it and then freeze it without baking. Pasta al Forno will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can bake your frozen pasta, just add another 20-30 minutes to the baking time.
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Once you try this baked pasta, you will find yourself preparing it regularly, it's so good!
More pasta recipes you will enjoy
- pasta with seafood
- Puttanesca pasta
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Carbonara Pasta
- Pasta with bacon and mushrooms
Pasta al Forno Video
Pasta al Forno
This Pasta al Forno is rigatoni pasta mixed with a tasty meat sauce, covered with abundant cheese and baked to perfection. A hearty main dish option that's perfect for feeding a large group.
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 Calories: 601kcal
For the sauce
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 pounds of soft Italian sausage casings were removed
- 1/2 Cup of onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 24 ounces canned marinara sauce
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
For the assembly
- 16 ounces rigatoni or other short pasta cooked according to package directions in salted water
- 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 9 "x 13" skillet with cooking spray.
For the sauce
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage to the pan.
- Cook the sausage for 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces with a spoon. Add the onion to the pan. Cook an additional 5 minutes or until the sausage is browned and cooked and the onion is softened.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce and tomato sauce to skillet and simmer.
- Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens
For the assembly
- Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce.
- Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared skillet and top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned.
- Sprinkle with parsley. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.
Calories :: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 35 g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 726 mg | Potassium: 863mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 680 IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 4 mg