Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Pasta al forno is a hearty treat

Let’s focus this week on one of my favorite subjects, pasta. What could be more comforting, delicious, filling and affordable? 

When the world is upside down, when you are lost and forlorn, broke, brokenhearted and just down in the dumps, nothing is as reassuring and uplifting as a bowl of pasta. 

Pasta can be covered in sauce, as we Americans do, or lightly sauced with the emphasis on the pasta, not a soup, like our Italian friends. 

It can be nothing more than a little olive oil and some Parmigiano-Reggiano, a long-cooked ragu, or a baked pasta, known as al forno. 

There are at least seven categories of pasta: ribbon cut, extruded and stuffed, but let's stick with long pasta, like linguini or fettuccini, and, one of my favorites, ziti. 

PASTA AL FORNO

1 package ziti pasta

1 1/2 cups chucky, fresh tomato sauce

2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Shaved, not grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Chopped green onion for garnish

This is a very simple version of this classic recipe. Much depends on the tomato sauce you make (You'd never buy it, right?), so do your best. Cook the pasta, but drain it 2 minutes before it is done. Toss the pasta and sauce together, top with the mozzarella, and bake at 350 f until bubbly and hot. Garnish with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and green onion. Serve piping hot.

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