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Pasta al Forno

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Ciao amici! I’m Jeviko, your favorite Italian food blogger, inviting you into my kitchen to create a sensational baked pasta dish together. Get ready for this Pasta al Forno recipe that will have your family begging for seconds! This ooey, gooey pasta bake is pure Italian comfort food at its finest. We’ll be mixing tender pasta with rich tomato sauce, creamy cheeses, and savory herbs to create a mouthwatering masterpiece. With just a few simple ingredients and easy instructions, you’ll be enjoying restaurant-quality Pasta al Forno from your own oven any night of the week. I’ll provide tips and tricks for getting the ultimate flavor and texture in every tasty bite. Say arrivederci to boring weeknight dinners and prego to your new favorite pasta recipe! Grab your apron and let’s start baking the best Pasta al Forno of your life!

I know you probably have some questions about this sensational pasta bake, so here are the top 5 most frequently asked questions and my answers:

What exactly is Pasta al Forno?

Pasta al Forno translates from Italian to “oven baked pasta.” It’s a classic Italian comfort food dish made by boiling pasta until al dente, then mixing it with tomato sauce, cheese like mozzarella and ricotta, herbs and spices. This cheesy, saucy pasta mixture is then baked in the oven until the cheese is perfectly melted and the edges get a bit crispy.

What type of pasta works best?

I prefer short tubular or ridged pastas for this recipe, like rigatoni, penne or ziti. The ridges and tubes hold the sauce and cheese nicely. Long pastas like spaghetti or linguine don’t work as well – they tend to get overcooked and mushy when baked.

What sauce should I use?

A classic tomato or meat sauce is traditional for Pasta al Forno. The rich, savory sauce complements the cheese nicely when baked. But you could also use pesto, vodka sauce, Alfredo, bolognese or just about any sauce that complements cheese. Get creative with different sauce flavors!

Can I prepare this ahead of time?

You absolutely can and should prepare this completely ahead of time! Just cook the pasta, mix everything together and transfer to a baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking. Then bake until hot and bubbly just before serving.

What protein goes well with this dish?

I love mixing Italian sausage or ground beef right into the sauce for this pasta bake. The meat adds nice flavor and texture. Grilled or baked chicken breast also pairs nicely with Pasta al Forno. A simple green salad with shrimp or whitefish is light but satisfying protein too.

Alright, ready to learn how easy this is to make at home? Let’s go over the basics:

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 jar (24 ounce) pasta sauce
  • 1 container (15 ounce) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces), divided
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Now for the fun part – let’s get to baking!
  2. Gather your ingredients and let’s start baking, woohoo! I’m so excited for you to try this.
  3. First, preheat your oven to 350°F to get it nice and hot for our pasta. We want a hot oven so the cheese melts beautifully and the pasta bakes up crispy around the edges. Yum!
  4. While the oven heats up, lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with some olive oil or nonstick spray. This prevents any sticking or burning on the bottom.
  5. Now for the fun part – boiling pasta! Fill a large pot with salted water, about 6 quarts, making sure it’s salty like the Mediterranean sea. When it comes to a rolling boil, add in 1 pound of your favorite short pasta and give it a good stir. Cook for just 1 minute less than the package recommends so it stays nice and firm. We want the pasta al dente and not mushy.
  6. When your pasta is ready, scoop out about 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water and drain the pasta well in a colander. Then return it to the warm pot along with the reserved pasta water. This will help the sauce stick nicely later on. Well done, my friend!
  7. While your pasta is boiling, you can also mix up the cheese filling! In a large bowl, blend together the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, parsley, basil, oregano, pepper, garlic powder and a pinch of salt until uniform.
  8. Now for the best part – mixing everything together! Pour your cheesy mixture and about 3 cups of pasta sauce over the hot pasta. Then stir enthusiastically with a pair of tongs or large spoon until every single piece of pasta is coated in that delicious sauce and cheese. Bellissimo!
  9. Transfer your fully combined pasta masterpiece into your prepared baking dish. Smooth the top neatly and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella evenly over top. This bubbly, golden cheese will be so satisfying when it comes out of the oven!
  10. Bake your Pasta al Forno uncovered for 45 minutes, keeping an eye on it so the cheese doesn’t burn. After 45 minutes, check that the pasta is bubbling at the edges and the cheese has melted gorgeously. If not, bake for 5-10 minutes more.
  11. When it’s fully baked, remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before digging your spoon in. This allows the pasta to firm up a bit so it’s not a total mush-fest on your plate. Carefully scoop out portions onto plates or into bowls.
  12. Now, take that first steaming, irresistible bite of the new Italian favorite – homemade Pasta al Forno! Let me know what you and your family think. This recipe always makes me smile. Enjoy!

Cooking tips:

  • After years of practice, here are my pro tips for pasta bake perfection:
  • Slightly undercook the pasta so it doesn’t get mushy when baked.
  • Use high quality ingredients, especially Parmesan cheese and pasta sauce.
  • Mix the sauce and cheeses into pasta well before baking so every bite is even.
  • Cover with foil if top browns too quickly, then uncover at end for crispy cheese.
  • Let baked pasta rest 5-10 minutes before serving so flavors can marry and set.

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