Southern celebratory baked pasta

Southern celebratory baked pasta

Pasta classica al forno

By
From
Pasta
Serves
8-10
Photographer
Laura Edwards

Of all the Italian dishes involving pasta, this super-classic – of which various regional variations exist – is perhaps the most engaging, and it’s worth every bite. It is normally baked for grand occasions, even for weddings, and it can be quite rich. But when Italians celebrate they can eat far more than they imagine out of sheer greed and sheer pleasure. This dish was usually made by my mother for Easter and Christmas, and it was always magnificent. We would finish it off the next day, when it tasted even better! It’s ideal for parties as it can be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg dried pasta, choose from large rigatoni or penne, mafalde, broken-up long ziti, macaroni etc.
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce

Quantity Ingredient
200ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2kg canned crushed tomatoes
100g tomato paste
10 fresh basil leaves

Meatballs

Quantity Ingredient
500g beef mince
30g parmesan, freshly grated
2 medium eggs, beaten
50g fresh breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
30ml red wine
seed oil, for frying, such as peanut or sunflower

Spinach balls

Quantity Ingredient
600g young spinach leaves
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
tip a knife of freshly grated nutmeg
50g fresh breadcrumbs
20g parmesan, freshly grated
olive oil, for shallow-frying

Layering

Quantity Ingredient
300g thinly sliced salami, perhaps with fennel seeds
600g taleggio cheese, cut into small chunks
200g parmesan, freshly grated
12 medium eggs
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste and basil and cook slowly for 30 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.
  3. For the meatballs, put the mince into a bowl and add some salt and pepper, the Parmesan, the beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic and wine. Mix well, then make into balls the size of a walnut. Shallow-fry in seed oil until brown. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the spinach balls first by cooking the spinach leaves in salted water for a few minutes. Scoop out and leave to cool down. When cool, squeeze out most of the moisture and chop the leaves with a knife, but not too small. Then mix in a bowl with the eggs, garlic, nutmeg, breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Make some balls the size of a large walnut and shallow-fry in oil until they start to brown on all sides. Set aside.

    Frying them at the end in a little of the seed oil, as you did the meatballs.
  5. Cook the pasta now in plenty of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until barely al dente. Drain and flavour with a little of the sauce.
  6. In a baking dish of about 20–25cm in diameter, start with a layer of pasta and then add some of the salami, some of the meatballs and spinach balls, and some of the Taleggio cheese. Spread with some sauce and grated Parmesan. Build two to three layers in the same way and finish with lots of Taleggio, sauce and Parmesan. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper and pour evenly over the top: the liquid will penetrate to the bottom layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Take out, let the dish rest for a few minutes, then dig deep. Delicious…
Tags:
Antonio
Carluccio
pasta
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