Rigatoni or Pasta al Forno is the perfect meal you can made ahead. Perfect for large crowds or an intimate dinner for two.
What is Pasta al Forno?
Pasta al Forno is a baked pasta that combined with tomato sauce, meat, eggs, cheese and is a hearty meal that will cure anyone's hunger. All these ingredients are baked together in the oven and then served as a main entrée.
My mom made this growing up and I now make it for my family, but of course mom's is always better. Maybe that's because a meal always tastes better when someone else is making it for you - with love.
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Tips and Tricks to Making the Best Pasta al Forno
There are three parts to making this dish. Making a meaty sauce (or not, you don't have to use meat). Cooking the pasta. Putting the dish together and baking it for at least 45 minutes.
What Type of Pasta can I use?
For this baked pasta dish, I usually use Rigatoni pasta. But you can use any type of small tube like pasta like penne or macaroni.
When cooking your pasta you will want to make sure you don't cook it all the way through. For the best pasta al forno, you will need to take out the past when it's about ¾ of the way cooked.
Essentially the pasta needs to be less cooked than "al dente". The reason that the pasta needs to be partially raw is that it will finish cooking as it is baking.
If you cook the pasta all the way through before combining it with the other ingredients and baking it, you will end up with pasta that is very soft and overcooked.
Ingredients - How to make this Baked Pasta Different
The basic ingredients for this pasta al forno as per the instructions and the way I have always eaten it include: meat sauce, parmesan cheese, boiled egg, rigatoni pasta, mozzarella (or any other shredded cheese).
You may not like boiled eggs in your pasta and that's ok. You don't have to add boiled eggs. Instead, here are some other ideas/ingredients to add that will make your pasta al forno different.
- sliced pork sausage
- vegetables (e.g. cut broccoli)
- make it meatless
- add chilli flakes
If you like rice, you should try my recipe for riso al forno, you'll love it!
Why Make this Pasta al Forno?
Well to start, it tastes great! But here are some other reasons to make this Rigatoni al Forno:
- It's a hearty dish that will satisfy everyone's hunger
- It's economical to make
- You can make it for large groups or small groups
- You can make it ahead of time and bake it just before eating
- Leftovers store exceptionally well
- You can make it vegan or vegetarian
What Type of Dish can I Bake this in?
This is a good question. You will need either a rectangular baking dish or a round baking dish. A dish that is deep enough to house all of your pasta and sauce.
It's best that the dish has a lid, but if it does not you will need to cover it with aluminum foil. If you don't cover the pasta it will dry out while it is cooking and you will end up with crispy pasta!
This pasta dish stores exceptionally well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. This pasta al forno also freezes well in a container. When you are ready to eat it, take it out of the freezer overnight and place it in the fridge. Then you can warm it up in the microwave.
Another option for warming up pasta is to fry it up in a frypan like my mom used to do. Delish!
Note that the storage guidelines provided on this page and site are estimates from personal experiences. We are all adults and as an adult you are responsible to ensure that the food you eat is safe to eat. Since, I'm not a food safety expert, you are responsible to review your local guidelines on food storage prior to storing any food left-overs.
For Canadian Guidelines check Government of Canada's Food and Safety Guidelines for further information and resources.
Pin For Later Here
(Rigatoni) Pasta al Forno
- 1 lbs ground veal
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 onion
- 750 ml tomato puree
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 3 basil leaves
- ½ tbsp dried basil or 3 fresh basil leaves
- ½ cups water
For the Pasta
- 450 g Rigatoni Pasta or any small tuberos pasta
- ½ cups shredded parmigiana cheese
- ½ cups shredded mozzarella
- 2 hard boiled eggs optional
- ¾ cups pasta water
For the Sauce
- For the tomato sauce, in a large saucepan heat up the olive oil and brown the onions and garlic.
- Toss in the veal and brown the veal. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add nutmeg and continue to brown veal. Once veal is cooked. Add tomato paste and stir into coat all of the ground meet.
- Add tomato puree and bring to boil. Add oregano. The sauce will cook down and get thick, if necessary add ½ cup of water if the sauce is too thick.
- Bring down to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes.
- Toss in finely chopped fresh basil (dried is fine too)
For the Pasta
- Place 8 cups of water in a large pot, on stove top on high and bring to a boil. Place pasta into boiling water and add salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to boil for about 6 minutes. The pasta should be slightly cooked but hard. Do not over cook.
- Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water for the assembly. Drain pasta and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Place the pasta in a large bowl or return to empty pot.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Place about half of the sauce into the bowl with the pasta. Mix well. Add half of the parmigiana cheese and half of the shredded mozzarella. Mix well.
- In a medium sized baking dish (9 x 8), place ¾ cup of water and one scoop of the sauce. Pour half of the pasta mixture in the dish. Spread half of the remaining sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle half of the remaining parmigiana cheese and half of the remaining shredded mozzarella. Chop the hard boiled eggs, and sprinkle half on top.
- Pour the rest of the pasta mixture on top. Spread the remaining sauce over pasta. Top with the remaining chopped egg.
- Bake at 350°F degrees for 45 minutes. You will know when it is done when a fork is easily inserted in the pasta and the pasta is soft. Once the pasta is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it stand for about 15 minutes so that it sets and is easy to cut and serve.
Why have I never made this?! I am going to try this for sure. I love pasta and everything in this dish!
This is the ultimate comfort food dinner! Yum yum yum. And I know exactly what you mean about mom's version tasting better. My mom always said her secret ingredient was love. <3
Yes totally agree with ultimate comfort food!
This is a hearty and filling dish and it was perfect for a rainy day. Leftovers were every bit as good too!
Colleen, I'm glad you liked it and I couldn't agree with you more. There is nothing like leftover fried up pasta!
I love a good baked pasta. It's a dinner that even the kids are happy to eat. Thanks for another one to add to my rotation.
i could never say no to a good tomato pasta especially rigatoni!!
Baked pasta is a regular feature on our table. I love your version with the rigatoni and veal. I need to keep my eyes open for some ground veal though, I find it's not always easy to find here.
I made this on today and it was amazing. I didn't put the egg though because my daughter doesn't like boiled egg in pasta.