Pasta al Forno
Pasta al Forno is a super comforting and easy baked pasta recipe made with a rich tomato sauce, penne pasta, a creamy, cheesy taleggio cheese sauce and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs before being baked to perfection.
Servings: 6 people
- 4 cups penne pasta or any short pasta shape (14 oz/400g)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil plus a drizzle for topping
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 cups passata rustic chunky pureed tomatoes (1.7 lbs/800g)
- 4 tbsp butter (50g)
- 1/3 cup plain flour (40g)
- 1 2/3 cup milk (400ml)
- 1/2 cup taleggio cheese cut into cubes (100g)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (30g)
- 1/2 tbsp parmesan freshly grated
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)
First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook it for 4-5 minutes only. Don't cook it any longer, drain and set aside. Add a drizzle of olive oil to stop the pasta stick once drained.
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 (chunky sieved tomatoes), a good pinch of salt and pepper and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
As the tomato sauce is simmering 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 set aside.
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.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted and crispy.
Making a roux
- 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.
- 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;
- Undercook the pasta by around 3 minutes so it doesn't overcook in the oven.
- If you don't have taleggio use a good melting cheese such as fontina, gruyere or a mature cheddar.
- Panko breadcrumbs work great here because they're light and extra crispy but any kind of breadcrumbs will do.
- You can add different herbs and spices such as parsley and chili flakes to switch it up.
- Don't want to go meat-free? You can add in pretty much any meat you like from crispy pancetta, sausage, chicken or beef.
Calories: 658kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 889mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1310IU | Vitamin C: 13.8mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 5.8mg