There’s a new pasta in town…gone are the days of using ricotta for pasta al-forno. Have you ever wondered why your perfectly prepared pasta, with the succulent sauce seasoned just right, noodles with the just-right bite of al dente, turns just a bit dry? Its the ricotta. Trust me. Next time you have un gusto per la pasta al forno (a taste for a baked pasta, ie lasagna, baked ziti, ect), try a bechemel AND your red sauce ~ you’ll not go back.
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 slices pancetta, diced
- 2 2/3 c milk
- 5 T butter
- 1/3 c flour
- 2 cups red sauce (24 oz jarred sauce)
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh basil, cut in ribbons or torn by hand
- 1 tsp oregano
- spicy Italian sausage, optional
- 3 c parmesan cheese, finely shredded
- fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 2 cups mozzarella, grated
In a mediuml saucepan, melt butter, add 1 minced garlic clove and whisk in flour, cooking for up to 10 minutes until flour/butter browns. Slowly whisk in milk; add pinch of salt. Stir occassionally until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups parmiggiano; set aside. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente (if using boxed pasta, subtract 4 minutes from LOWEST cooktime).
In a separate saucepan, brown pancetta, garlic and onion in 2 T olive oil; add sauce, a pinch of kosher salt, crushed red pepper, oregano and basil. If using sausage, brown in skillet and drain. Get a large cassarole prepared (spray with non-stick spray and drizzle lightly with olive oil). Toss pasta, all but 1 c of red sauce, bechemel and grated mozzarella (and sausage, if using) in prepared cassarole; top with remaining parmiggiano and 1 cup red sauce; distribute sliced mozzarella over top. Bake in a 350 pre-heated oven for 18 minutes. Place pasta under broiler until cheese and pasta just get bubbly and browned…um, deliciousness.