Domenic's Pasta Al Forno
Another favourite by my father-in-law. I spent an afternoon with him learning to make this, but I'm still not certain I can duplicate it! It is a simple dish that reheats nicely, but also time consuming to prepare. It's well worth the effort, though! Omit the ground beef, if you prefer.
- Ready In:
- 2hrs 20mins
- 1 (900 g) bag ziti pasta
- 1 1⁄2 cups light mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 4 -5 tablespoons parmesan cheese or 4 -5 tablespoons romano cheese, grated
For the Tomato Sauce
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (to taste) or 1 tablespoon basil (to taste)
For the Bechamel Sauce
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups cold milk
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 pinch salt (to taste)
- Brown ground beef in a pan with a splash of water, stirring frequently to break it up into very small pieces.
- Meanwhile, saute the onions in oil in a large saucepan. When they have turned limp and transparent, add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.
- Add the beef to the vegetables. Stir in the sugar, tomatoes and tomato paste. You may also need to add in some water to obtain the correct consistency - this needs to be a bit thinner than a traditional pasta sauce. Simmer for about an hour.
- With about 15 or 20 minutes left, check the consistency of the sauce again. Add water, if required, as well as seasonings.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan.
- Add flour and 1 cup of milk to a sealable jar and shake well until the flour is distributed throughout the milk. Add this mixture slowly to the butter, stirring constantly. Repeat with remaining milk and paprika.
- Continue heating, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Again, this does not need to be a thick sauce.
- Cook ziti for about 7 minutes in a pot of salted boiling water. The ziti will only be about half cooked at this point. Drain, reserving about a cup of water to thin the sauce, if necessary.
- Mix the pasta with tomato sauce, bechamel sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Stir well to combine and melt cheese. There should be enough sauce to just cover the pasta. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish.
- If you have some tomato sauce left, spoon it lightly over top of the pasta for a bit of extra colour. Sprinkle with parmesan, cover, and bake for about 40 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking during this time, and the excess liquid will be absorbed!
- Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.