Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Baked pasta is a versatile dish

Pasta al forno, sounds a bit exotic, doesn't it? Well in fact it means nothing more than baked pasta, but that does not belie how delicious it can be.

Pasta that is cooked in this manner can be made with a huge list of ingredients: capers, ham, sausage, salami, cheese of many sorts, olives and almost any shape of pasta you like. 

The most critical aspect is not to overcook the pasta, that means pre-cooking the pasta, but removing it from heat before it is cooked through, draining and giving it a rinse. Nothing could be worse that a baked pasta dish that has the texture of mush. 

PASTA AL FORNO 

1 pound ziti pasta

2/3 cup ricotta  

1/2 cup Provolone cheese

1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2/3 cup chopped ham

3-4 hard boiled eggs

3-4 cups red sauce (marinara or a more substantial ragu)

Preheat the oven to 350 f. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but remove and drain 2 minutes early. Give the ham a quick sauté in hot olive oil, just to sear. Now combine the pasta, ham, sauce, ricotta and place in an oven proof dish. Nestle the eggs deep into the dish and top with the cheeses. Bake 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 

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