Pasta

Tomato Pasta Bake – Pasta Al Forno

A delicious tomato pasta bake (pasta al forno) made with a rich tomato sauce, giant penne pasta, a creamy, cheesy taleggio cheese sauce and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs before being baked to perfection.

Seriously good comfort food…

A tomato pasta bake in a baking dish topped with breadcrumbs

Pasta Al Forno Meaning

Pasta al forno basically means pasta made in the oven. It can be anything you like, a lot of Italian recipes include sausage or veggies such as eggplant in a tomato sauce with bechamel or mozzarella. Since I already have a sausage pasta bake on the blog, which btw is fricken dee-licious I decided to go for a simpler version, meat free but with loads of cheese…obviously.

So lemme break it down for ya..

Making The Tomato Pasta Bake Sauce

The tomato sauce is super easy BUT like I always say needs the highest quality tomatoes possible. I used Cirio passata rustica which is the rustic, chunkier textured pureed tomatoes instead of the more commonly found silky smooth type.

Also a lot of flavour is created in the first step so don’t miss it. Lightly fry garlic with fresh basil, fennel seeds and oregano in a little olive oil, you’ll smell all the delicious flavours and after a couple of seconds the tomatoes are added….so much yum!

The Pasta

For this tomato pasta bake I used giant ridged penne which work perfectly because the delicious sauces fills the tubes ensuring you get the best flavour in every bite! If you can’t find the giant penne anywhere then normal sized will do or if you happen to already have a short pasta shape in your cupboard then use that!

I’m all for using what you’ve got and keeping the cost down.

What Makes This Tomato Pasta Bake Extra Delicious?

Uggghh the taleggio cheese sauce…so damn delicious. For so long taleggio cheese was my favourite cheese on earth…now I’m literally obsessed with cheese it’s far too hard to choose a favourite and let me tell you it’s perfect melted!

The thing I love most about it is that it keeps it’s flavour when it’s melted so you don’t end up with a bland, so, so cheese sauce. It also just takes this tomato pasta bake up to a whole new level of deliciousness.

So let’s get to tha makin’….

How To Make Tomato Pasta Bake (pasta al forno) – Step By Step

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

To make the sauce, fry the chopped garlic with the basil, fennel seeds and dried oregano in 1/2 tbsp of olive oil until fragrant. Add the passata rustica (rustic pureed tomatoes) and let it simmer as the pasta cooks (photos 1 & 2).

Step by step photos for making a tomato pasta bake

A saucepan of bechamel sauce made without butter

Don’t have butter? Follow this recipe for making a thick cheesy sauce without butter!

Next make the cheese sauce by making a roux with butter and flour (see recipe card below for more details). Add the milk slowly whilst whisking until it starts to thicken. Add the taleggio cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir until the cheese has melted and is thick. Set aside (photos 4-6).

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir until coated well. Transfer it to a baking dish then top with the taleggio cheese sauce. Finally top with breadcrumbs, a tiny drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan (photos 7-9).

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted and crispy.

Top Tips For Making This Tomato Pasta Bake;

  • Under cook the pasta by around 3 minutes because it’ll then be baked in the oven for 30 minutes to cook further.
  • If you don’t have taleggio used a good melting cheese such as fontina, gruyere or a mature cheddar
  • Use homemade breadcrumbs for this bake, they’re totally different from store bought and make a difference to the end result.
  • You can add different herbs and spices such as parsley and chili flakes.

A close up of a spoons cooping up some tomato pasta bake with cheese oozing

If you’ve tried this Tomato Pasta Bake or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

5 from 2 votes
Tomato Pasta Bake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
A delicious tomato pasta bake (pasta al forno) made with a rich tomato sauce, giant penne pasta, a creamy, cheesy taleggio cheese sauce and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs before being baked to perfection.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian pasta bake, pasta bake
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 658 kcal
Author: Emily Kemp
Ingredients
  • 14 oz (400g) giant penne pasta or regular
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1.7 lbs (4 cups/800g) passata rustic chunky pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil plus a drizzle for topping
  • 1 cup (30g) homemade breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp parmesan freshly grated
Cheese Sauce
  • 1.7 oz (50g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (40g) plain flour
  • 1 2/3 cup (400ml) milk
  • 3.5 oz (100g) taleggio cheese cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to season
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)

  2. First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Undercook it by 3-4 minutes according to your packet instruction.
  3. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. Fry the chopped garlic with the basil, fennel seeds and dried oregano with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil until fragrant. Add the passata rustica (rustic pureed tomatoes), a good pinch of salt and pepper and let it simmer gently as the pasta cooks.
  4. Next make the cheese sauce by making a roux with butter and flour in a seperate saucepan (see notes). Add the milk slowly whilst whisking until it starts to thicken. Add the taleggio cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir until the cheese has melted and is thick. Turn the heat off and keep warm.

  5. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce and stir until coated well. Transfer it to a baking dish then top with the taleggio cheese sauce. Finally top with breadcrumbs, a tiny drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted and crispy.
Recipe Notes

Making a roux

  1. Add the butter to a saucepan on a medium heat. Once melted add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a paste.
  2. Stir the paste for 1-2 minutes to cook out the floury taste (important for the taste of the sauce). Next start by add the milk a little at a time whilst whisking to avoid any lumps.

Top Tips For Making This Tomato Pasta Bake;

  • Under cook the pasta by around 3-4 minutes because it'll then be baked in the oven for 30 minutes to cook further.
  • If you don't have taleggio used a good melting cheese such as fontina, gruyere or a mature cheddar
  • Use homemade breadcrumbs for this bake, they're totally different from store bought and make a difference to the end result.
  • You can add different herbs and spices such as parsley and chili flakes.

Nutrition Facts
Tomato Pasta Bake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 658 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 616mg 26%
Potassium 889mg 25%
Total Carbohydrates 103g 34%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 13g
Protein 22g 44%
Vitamin A 26.2%
Vitamin C 16.7%
Calcium 28.8%
Iron 32.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Eden | Sweet Tea & Thyme
    September 1, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Oooh these photos SERIOUSLY made me hungry! Looks delish!

  • Reply
    Catherine Brown
    August 27, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    Ooooh, perfect comfort food! Look at all that creaminess! My family will love this. 🙂

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