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How to prepare the perfect baked pasta? The recipe that everyone agrees on


Traditional baked pasta

Baked pasta is a triumph of aromas and flavors, a recipe that immediately becomes a family and brings a lot of joy. The important thing, however, is to prepare it as best as possible!

I don't know about you, but every time we take out a pan of steaming baked pasta we feel great satisfaction : the house is flooded with a very pleasant scent, which only baking can provide! To obtain this delicious baked first course, in addition to the pasta, you need a mix of bechamel, Parmigiano Reggiano and the always super popular and timeless meat sauce.

The great advantage (and convenience) of baked pasta? While she cooks, you can dedicate the waiting minutes to the family and perhaps enjoy some appetizers at the table together . And not only that: if you don't have much time available, just prepare it in advance and heat it up just before serving.

The only condition: the baked pasta recipe must be done to perfection ! Today we will reveal all the secrets to making this dish without errors.

Traditional baked pasta
Traditional baked pasta

Baked pasta: the perfect recipe (and unmissable tips)

Everyone has their own recipes in the kitchen. There are secrets handed down from grandparents and great-grandparents, advice that we have learned thanks to particular experiences and some tricks that we know by heart. Well, today, talking about baked pasta, there are some things you can't help but know. Here they are!

The ingredients of the perfect baked pasta

baked pasta ingredients
baked pasta ingredients

The goodness of a dish is obtained by using excellent quality raw materials. Try to avoid using ready-made products available at the supermarket, such as bechamel, ragù, etc… If you do everything with your hands, not only will there be more satisfaction, but also more taste! You will need:

  • 600 g of macaroni or penne (or short pasta)
  • 1 kg of meat sauce
  • 400 ml of bechamel
  • 400 g of mozzarella
  • 90 g of parmesan
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Remember that a perfect baked pasta must have a nice firm béchamel, a thick ragù and very dry mozzarella. Don't you believe it? Then you will end up with a "pond" at the bottom of the pan…

How to make red baked pasta sauce

This pasta is traditionally made with meat sauce and it is a good idea to start right here. If you don't already have it ready (perhaps made in large quantities and then frozen) allow about an hour for this preparation . With the doses below you will get the right amount of ragù for the baked pasta recipe. The ingredients are:

  • 400 g ground beef pulp
  • 200 g of minced pork
  • 300 g of tomato puree
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 golden onion
  • 250 g of wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • pepper as needed
  • rosemary to taste
preparation of meat sauce
preparation of meat sauce
  1. Chop onion, celery and carrots and sauté them in a pan with oil and a clove of garlic, also adding a sprig of rosemary and bay leaves.
  2. After a handful of minutes, add the minced meat followed by the wine , which you will evaporate, and finally the pureed tomato , salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the herbs and cook for 30 minutes (minimum) until it has thickened sufficiently (remember: it must be fluid, but thick!).

Once ready, let it cool .

How to make béchamel sauce

While the ragù is cooking, all that remains is to prepare the homemade béchamel , which is decidedly quicker (it will be ready in less than half an hour: promise!). We have already halved the quantities of ingredients compared to the classic recipe (which requires a liter of milk) so you will get the right quantity for the baked pasta recipe. You therefore need:

  • 50 g of butter
  • 50 g of sifted flour
  • 500 ml of hot milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • nutmeg to taste
  • pepper as needed
preparation of the béchamel sauce
preparation of the béchamel sauce
  1. First, melt the butter over a low heat.
  2. Add the sifted flour and mix continuously with the whisk to avoid lumps. This preparation is the so-called roux.
  3. Cook the roux over low heat until it is golden .
  4. Add the hot milk and let everything thicken. Complete with salt and herbs and your bechamel is ready!

Let it cool once ready.

How to make traditional baked pasta

Now, finally , we come to the actual baked pasta recipe!

preparing baked pasta
preparing baked pasta
  1. Start by cooking the pasta in abundant salted water : you will have to drain it al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut the mozzarella into cubes, so as to release the milk.
  3. Drain the pasta and, in its cooking pot, season it with the ragù.
  4. Grease a baking dish well with EVO oil and start layering : pasta with meat sauce, béchamel sauce and mozzarella cubes.
  5. Place the last mozzarella cubes on top and sprinkle with grated cheese: this will form a crunchy crust. Bake in the oven at 180°C for half an hour. Enjoy your meal!

Primo Chef's tips for perfect baked pasta

  • As regards cooking pasta in the oven, everyone knows their oven perfectly, therefore, depending on the power (and if you prefer it ventilated or static), the minutes will change: in general, however, a temperature ranging from 170 is used °C to around 200 °C , and cooking rarely goes below 15 minutes.
  • The importance of the right ingredients . Don't be fooled by the rush: during a quick trip to the supermarket the temptation to buy jarred ragù, thin sheets of pasta and chef's bechamel is strong. But, needless to say, the result will be a bit sad: we are not talking about epic disasters, but there is just no comparison with the 100% homemade one!
  • The shape of the pasta is very important: you can choose fusilli , penne, mezze maniche or baked macaroni, but also gnocchi and tortellini if ​​you have some leftover and you want to give them a new look. Long pasta, however, is not recommended.
  • Pay attention to the textures! For a creamy result, fluidity is everything, but fluid does not mean liquid: to avoid surprises, try to obtain a full-bodied sauce, a thick béchamel sauce, well-drained pasta and watch out for cheating ingredients , such as mozzarella for example! Cut it in advance, so its milk will come out and it won't release liquid during cooking!
  • Watch out for the pan! There's nothing worse than a steaming pan of simple, delicious baked pasta that… just doesn't want to come out of the baking dish . Well, it also happens that the pan is not well greased and the pasta sticks all to the bottom. Think about it: you won't make anyone happy if the crunchiest and tastiest pieces all stick together. All that goodness wasted… you just can't see it! For this reason, don't be stingy with the oil (or butter) you brush with before baking!
  • Cooking and baking pasta: when to drain the pasta? It's simpler than people say: drain the pasta al dente and bake everything to finish cooking in the oven. In our experience, (pre)cooking is only necessary if you use semolina pasta ; a problem that therefore does not arise when you make lasagna: for ready-made thin sheets, the humidity of the other ingredients will be enough.

Baked pasta recipes: the best variations

If, however, you want a slightly more particular variant, you can indulge yourself with the filling or vary the pasta shapes. Furthermore, the preparation of this recipe allows us to give free rein to our imagination based on the ingredients available at that moment in the pantry and refrigerator . Here are many other recipes that you can't miss!

How to make white baked pasta

white baked pasta
white baked pasta

The preparation of baked pasta in white does not differ much from the original, both in terms of preparation times and ingredients. For the recipe for baked pasta in white (for 4 people) you will need:

  • 600 g of macaroni
  • 800 g of minced pork
  • 400 ml of bechamel
  • 400 g of mozzarella
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 90 g of parmesan
  • 1/2 glass of white cooking wine
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

The plain one is a quick and simple baked pasta: compared to the traditional one, it omits the tomato; the white ragù prepared simply with minced meat, mozzarella, short pasta and bechamel come together in a mouth-watering first course (or main course).

Baked paccheri

Baked paccheri au gratin
Baked paccheri au gratin

Paccheri, unlike many other pastas, are perfect for filling! And our recipe is no exception: you can put whatever you want in it (even the ragù that we prepared before), but we chose to make baked paccheri with chicory and ricotta . You will need:

  • 240 g of paccheri
  • 1 shallot
  • 400 g of chicory
  • 500 g of ricotta
  • 50 g of Parmigiano Reggiano + that for the gratin
  • Salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • basil to taste

Cook the vegetables separately, add them to the ricotta and then use them to fill the pasta; arrange the stuffed paccheri standing up in your pan: it is so spectacular that you will see that when you bring them to the table everyone will love them!

Baked pasta and potatoes

Baked pasta with potatoes
Baked pasta with potatoes

Our recipe for pasta and baked potatoes is with provola and bacon , but as usual you can omit an ingredient or add another based on your tastes and intolerances. Here are the ingredients for the pasta and baked potatoes (for 4 people):

  • 320 g of short pasta (penne or rigati celery)
  • 400 g of potatoes
  • 200 g of provola
  • 100 g of bacon
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

This baked pasta with béchamel meets potatoes and bacon for a result with maximum creaminess and sweetness, but also taste! In short, try this wonderful dish of poor origin for a rich and substantial lunch!

Vegetarian baked pasta

vegetarian baked pasta
vegetarian baked pasta

Baked pasta with vegetables is a variant of the most popular and appreciated, not only by vegetarians. It is colorful and makes all your guests happy . Let's see the ingredients for the baked vegetarian pasta recipe (for 4 people):

  • 350 g of pasta
  • 2 broccoli
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 mozzarella
  • 100 g of bechamel
  • 80 g of grated cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • breadcrumbs to taste

The best part of this vegetarian recipe is that you can vary the vegetables based on the season or what you have in the fridge: green light for courgettes in summer, broccoli in winter (and baked pasta with aubergines all year round!) and everything you like most. Try it, you will love it !

Neapolitan-style baked pasta

Neapolitan baked pasta
Neapolitan baked pasta

Few dishes scream tradition like Neapolitan-style baked pasta : a sort of rich mess with many ingredients (meatballs, tomato sauce, egg, cheese and salami to name a few) . For our Neapolitan pasta recipe (for 4 people) you will need:

  • 300 g of pasta
  • 300 g of tomato pulp
  • 200 g of minced meat
  • 3 eggs
  • 120 g of grated cheese
  • 80 g of mozzarella
  • 60 g of scamorza
  • 80 g of Neapolitan salami
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • basil to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • frying oil to taste
  • flour to taste

You can serve it hot, freshly baked or cold the next day: we guarantee that it will be a great success thanks to its richness and variety of flavours!

Sicilian baked pasta

Sicilian baked pasta
Sicilian baked pasta

Sicilian baked pasta is even more delicious than the recipe we just saw! For a perfect result we recommend using rings . Here are the ingredients:

  • 600 g of macaroni or anelletti
  • 400 g of tomato sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 mozzarella
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 80 g of sausage
  • 250 g of minced meat
  • 90 g of Sicilian pecorino
  • 30 g of breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • pepper as needed

This version is really rich and once again you can customize it as you like! For example, take inspiration from the Palermo version and add peas to the ragù , as well as tomato and cheese.

Calabrian baked pasta (with meatballs)

baked pasta with meatballs
baked pasta with meatballs

Were you wondering where the famous baked pasta with meatballs is? Here it is: also known as Calabrian baked pasta or chjina pasta , it is a delicious and time-consuming recipe to prepare , which is why it is made the day before and reserved for special occasions, such as holidays. The ingredients may vary but we recommend (for 8 people):

  • 160 g of minced beef
  • 90 g of sausage
  • 350 g of tomato pulp
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • olive oil to taste
  • 400 g of macaroni
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • pepper as needed
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 1 slice of sandwich bread
  • 100 g of provola
  • oil for frying to taste

Making it is not at all different from all the other recipes. Just remember that the meatballs must strictly be fried . For the rest, alternate all the ingredients in a baking dish and then cook in the oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes.

This recipe is very similar to Apulian baked pasta: also in this variant there are meatballs, but accompanied by mortadella (and sometimes also by boiled eggs).

Botched pasta

Baked messy pasta
Baked messy pasta

Let's continue with therecipe for botched pasta which, as the name suggests, lends itself to many variations based on what we have in the fridge.

  • 600 g of macaroni or penne (or short pasta)
  • 700 ml of tomato puree
  • 400 ml of bechamel
  • 400 g of mozzarella
  • 90 g of parmesan
  • 100 g of salami
  • 100 g of mortadella
  • 200 g of provola
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

This is by far the tastiest version (have you seen how many ingredients?) But the best part is that you can customize them with whatever you want: this recipe was in fact born as a recycling idea for cured meats and eggs. Layer as desired and bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes!

Macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese
Macaroni and cheese

To change a little ( perhaps a little too much ) but stay on baked pasta, we want to delight you with an American dish that is famous all over the world but which, in our opinion, you have never had the courage to prepare: mac and cheese (macaroni with cheese).

  • 400 g of corkscrew
  • 1 liter of milk
  • 300 g of cheddar
  • 150 g of Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 60 g of butter
  • 60 g of flour
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • nutmeg to taste

Cook the pasta, draining it halfway through cooking and in the meantime prepare a classic béchamel sauce . When it is ready you will have to combine the two cheeses and flakes or grated ones and wait for them to melt into the sauce. Mix everything together, finish with a final sprinkling of parmesan on the surface and place in the oven at 180°C for 20-25 minutes .

Baked pasta with eggplant

Baked pasta with eggplant
Baked pasta with eggplant

We end on a high note with a perfect baked pasta with aubergines ! A dish actually suitable for the summer, given the presence of aubergines, but which can actually be reproduced well or badly at any time of the year.

  • 400 g of short pasta
  • 300 g of tomato puree
  • 4 aubergines
  • 250 g of shredded mozzarella
  • 100 g of grated cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • basil to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • half onion

Drain the aubergines then cut them into cubes and cook them in a pan with a drizzle of oil and salt (you can also fry them). Once cooked, add the puree and basil to taste, while the sauce is cooking, put the pasta in the pan and cook. Drain it and add it to half the sauce and form the layers of baked pasta: a layer of pasta, one of well-drained mozzarella and a ladle of sauce. Proceed in this way until the ingredients are finished and complete with flaked mozzarella and grated cheese. Then put in the oven at 180°C for about 20-25 minutes .

Did you like these ideas? Then we leave you all our best recipes for Sunday lunch and don't miss all our lasagna recipes !

storage

For the original baked pasta recipe and its variations, we recommend keeping everything in the fridge well covered in cling film for a maximum of 2-3 days . If you want you can freeze the dish in the freezer. once cooked and brought back to room temperature.


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