Ricetta: Oven-Baked Pasta “Saporita”

Who needs an introduction to baked pasta? It’s undoubtedly one of Italy’s most beloved first
courses, from north to south!
It’s a quick and easy recipe that can be a great alternative to lasagna, especially when
you’re short on time! The sausage and béchamel make the sauce incredibly flavorful and
creamy, while the gratin topping completes the dish.
A few simple ingredients and minimal effort will result in a succulent dish, perfect as a first
course for a Sunday family lunch, but also suitable for a weekday lunch or dinner.

The Origins of Pasta al Forno

Pasta al forno, a baked pasta dish, has ancient origins that can be traced back to the
earliest times.
The first evidence of a similar dish dates back to ancient Rome, where a type of lasagna
called “lagana” was prepared, consisting of layers of pasta filled with cheese and
vegetables. However, pasta al forno as we know it today has its roots in southern Italy,
particularly in Campania and Sicily, where it developed from the 16th century onwards, with
the introduction of tomatoes from the New World.
Pasta al forno is a typical dish for Sundays or holidays, when families gather around the
table. It is a rich and hearty dish that involves the use of various ingredients: pasta, usually
rigatoni or broken ziti, meat sauce, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, hard-boiled eggs, and
sometimes meatballs.
Each family has its own recipe, handed down from generation to generation, and each
variation has its own reason, linked to local traditions and customs.

Pasta al forno is a dish that encapsulates the history and culture of a people, their traditions,
and their flavors. It is a dish that speaks of conviviality, celebration, and sharing. It is a dish
that, despite its many variations, always retains an authentic and genuine soul.
In short, pasta al forno is a true heritage of Italian cuisine, a dish that has crossed
centuries and continues to be loved and appreciated all over the world.

Here are some additional details about the origins of pasta al forno:

Ancient Roman origins: as mentioned earlier, the first evidence of a dish similar to
pasta al forno dates back to ancient Rome. The Romans called this dish “lagana”
and it consisted of layers of pasta filled with cheese and vegetables.
Arab influence: during the Arab domination of Sicily in the 9th century, they
introduced the concept of timbales, which are savory pies made with pasta dough.
This is thought to be one of the early influences on the development of pasta al
Introduction of tomatoes: the arrival of tomatoes from the New World in the 16th
century revolutionized Italian cuisine, and pasta al forno was no exception. Tomatoes
added a new dimension of flavor and richness to the dish, making it even more

Regional variations of Pasta al forno

Pasta al forno has evolved over time to take on many regional variations.
In northern Italy, it is often made with besciamella sauce, while in southern Italy, it is more
common to use just tomato sauce. Other regional variations include the addition of different
types of meat, seafood, or vegetables.
A symbol of family and tradition: Pasta al forno is more than just a delicious dish, it is also a
symbol of family and tradition.
It is a dish that is often prepared for special occasions, such as holidays and family
gatherings. It is a dish that brings people together and creates memories that last a lifetime.

Let’s make the recipe!

Ingredients Serves

For the Pasta:
● 350 g Gigli
● 300 g sausage
● 500 g tomato passata
● 200 ml béchamel sauce
● 250 g mozzarella cheese, cubed
● 40 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
● ½ onion, chopped
● Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
● Salt, to taste


  1. In a pan, sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the sausage to the pan and crumble it with a spoon. Cook until browned.
  3. Pour in the tomato passata, season with salt to taste, and cook for about 10 minutes,
    stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the Gigli pasta in.
  5. When the sauce is ready, turn off the heat and pour in the béchamel sauce, stir until
    perfectly blended..
  6. Drain the pasta halfway through cooking and add it to the pan with the sauce.
  7. Fold in the cubed mozzarella and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Reserve some
    mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggianofor the final gratinating.
  8. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish and spread the remaining mozzarella and
    Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) in ventilated mode for about 25 minutes,
    or in static mode at 190°C (375°F) for the same amount of time.
  10. Your irresistible Pasta al Forno Saporita is ready to be served!

Final tips

For a richer flavor, you can use a combination of ground beef or pork and Italian sausage.
If you don’t have béchamel sauce on hand, you can make your own or use a nice ricotta
To make the dish even more decadent, you can add a sprinkle of crumbled Guanciale or
pancetta to the pasta before baking.