Pasta al forno - Calabria style

Pasta al forno Similar to the lasagna, the "pasta al forno" is prepared with regular pasta, in this recipe with "pennette rigate" tomato sauce, meat, scamorza (mozzarella), parmesan, bechamel. In the picture, the pasta format used is "tortiglioni". The bechamel, tomato sauce, and meatballs might be made also the day before, which will make the preparation much faster. The recipe is based on Sonia Peronaci's new blog.
Needless to say, a great many ingredients may added, as peppers, Swiss cheese, ham. And other pasta formats may be tried, as macaroni, tortiglioni, maltagliati etc. Any leftover pasta might be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a couple of days or frozen in proper containers to be consumed within two months.

For a faster preparations, you might already have a bechamel and tomato sauce prepared, and meatballs may be replaced with a ragout.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • pennette rigate (= ridged surface) 320 gr
  • 2 average-sized eggs
  • scamorza 150 gr
  • grated parmesan 50 gr

Ingredients for the Meatballs

  • pork minced meat 100 gr
  • sausage 150 gr
  • grated parmesan 60 gr
  • breadcrumbs (from rustic peasant loaf) 60 gr
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 average-size egg
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt as required
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • nutmeg powder

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce

  • tomato puree 800 gr
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • extravirgin olive oil 50 gr
  • salt as required

Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce

  • milk, 0.5 liter
  • flour 40 gr
  • butter 50 gr
  • 1 pinch nutmeg powder
  • salt as required


  • The Meatballs - Remove the crust from the loaf and make crumbles finely (you can use a food processor); in a bowl, put the sausage without its skin and chopped, the beef mincemeat and one by one the other ingredients. Knead for a few minutes and then shape into small balls that you can place on a dish as they are ready.
  • The Tomato sauce - Put the oil and garlic into a pan, and cook until the garlic is golden; add the tomato sauce and when it starts to simmer, add the meatballs and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Add salt, then the basil and turn off the heat.
  • The Bechamel sauce - Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir until the "roux" (the thickening basis of the sauce) takes a beautiful golden color. At this point pour the hot milk and stir with a whisk until it thickens; then add salt and the grated nutmeg.
  • The Other ingredients - Prepare the hard-boiled eggs, then let them cool and cut into slices. Cut the scamorza into small cubes. Boil the pasta in salted water and drain when it is about 2/3 of the cooking time (very much "al dente").
  • The Final assembling - Season the pennette with the tomato sauce and meatballs, then take a 26x20-cm baking dish and pour half of the seasoned pasta. Add half of the bechamel, sliced boiled eggs, scamorza cubes and grated parmesan. Prepare the second layer exactly like the first, until you have no more pasta.
  • The Baking - Put the baking pan into the preheated oven, at 180° centigrade for about 30 minutes. If you like a golden crust, you can grill from the above for another 5 minutes (but beware to not burn the top!).