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Pasta al Forno – Baked pasta 365

Pasta al Forno

Pasta al Forno


In case you didn’t know, 365 is Whole Foods’ brand name, and some of the ingredients in this dish were purchased at that grocery store chain. I was pleased with the outcome, but you can use any brand of your choice. I did something untraditional to save time on cleaning. Usually, I recommend the sauce waits for the pasta when making spaghetti al pomodoro con basilico or any pasta dish on the stovetop. However, since this dish was going to be baked in the oven, I cooked the pasta first, drained it, then used the same pot to make the sauce. Do you get the picture? One less pot to clean! This is a spin on baked ziti! I like the way the meat and cheese nestle inside the shells. This is much faster than building a lasagna/e.

Serves 6-8
Level of difficulty – Easy to medium


3/4 lb. medium-sized pasta shells (365)

1 handful of salt for pasta water

2-3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1.40 lbs. ground beef, pasture-raised (365)

24 ounces prepared tomato sauce- plain or with basil

14 ounces chopped tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup reserved pasta water (if needed)

15 ounces ricotta cheese (365)

8 ounces organic mozzarella, low moisture part-skim, shredded (365)

1/2 cup to 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, (Italian Parmesan) grated



1. In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil. Add salt. Cook for about 10 minutes or al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain, and save some pasta water. Pour the pasta in a medium-sized metal baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. In the same pot, on medium heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the meat, and cook for 6-10 minutes until browned. Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, and reserved pasta water. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Time to assemble. Use a ladle to spread the meat sauce over the pasta. Add ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmigiano cheese. Stir well. Bake in the oven covered with foil for about 30 minutes. Remove foil, drizzle with olive oil, and voila! Serve it with a salad.

Wine pairing suggestions: A Sangiovese Rosso, Chianti, or Lambrusco di Sorbara.

Lambrusco is a sparkling wine from the region of Emilia Romagna. The styles vary from sweet to dry, showing bright red fruit with lively acidity. For this reason, Lambrusco pairs well with tomato-based dishes and pizza. I visited Parma a few years ago and enjoyed Lambrusco for the first time. I paired it with pasta in a traditional Bolognese sauce and  “Culatello di Zibello”, a prized cured meat with a Protected Designation of Origin. They are both classic pairings in this Northern Italian region.

I promise you your guests will be satisfied with this soul-warming meal! I would appreciate it if you would direct them to my website. Until then, happy cooking and sipping!

PS. If you don’t consume alcohol, I recommend an Italian sparkling water to elevate the experience.

Buon Appetito!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Scholar
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist


Lambrusco di Sorbara

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