Southern Italian Baked Penne Pasta Recipe


Pasta al forno, also known as baked pasta, is a delicious and comforting dish that originates from Italy. It is a perfect meal for those chilly nights when you need something hearty and satisfying. The great thing about pasta al forno is that it allows for endless variations and combinations, making it a versatile dish that can be tailored to your taste. In this blog post, we will share a classic recipe for pasta al forno and guide you through the process of making this mouthwatering dish.


To make pasta al forno, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 grams of pasta (penne, rigatoni, or any other tubular pasta works well)
  • 400 grams of ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400 grams of canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking


Follow these steps to make a delectable pasta al forno:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until they become fragrant and translucent.
  4. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until it is browned and crumbly. Make sure to break up any large chunks of meat while stirring.
  5. Pour in the canned diced tomatoes, dried oregano, and dried basil. Stir well to combine all the flavors. Cook for another 5 minutes to let the sauce simmer and thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  6. In the greased baking dish, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of cooked pasta on top, followed by another layer of meat sauce. Continue layering until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of meat sauce on top.
  7. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese evenly over the top layer of sauce. Then, sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella.
  8. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.
  9. Take the pasta al forno out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together.
  10. Serve the pasta al forno hot and enjoy!


  1. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

    Absolutely! While penne or rigatoni are commonly used for pasta al forno, you can experiment with other types of tubular pasta or even use lasagna sheets for a twist.

  2. Can I substitute ground beef with another protein?

    Yes, you can substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or even a vegetarian meat substitute for a different twist on the classic recipe.

  3. Can I add vegetables to this dish?

    Of course! Feel free to add vegetables like diced bell peppers, spinach, or mushrooms to the meat sauce for added flavor and nutrition.

  4. Can I make this dish ahead of time?

    Yes, pasta al forno can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Simply reheat it in the oven before serving.

  5. Can I freeze pasta al forno?

    Yes, you can freeze pasta al forno for up to three months. Make sure to wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or place it in an airtight container before freezing. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat it in the oven.

Enjoy making and savoring this classic Italian comfort food, pasta al forno! It’s a versatile dish that can easily be customized to suit your taste buds and dietary preferences. Whether you follow our recipe or get creative with variations, we’re certain you’ll love this hearty and delicious baked pasta dish. Buon appetito!

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