Baked pasta is more of a cooking hack than a recipe and is an easy way to up the delicious factor of many different pasta dishes. You just layer the pasta with mozzarella in a baking dish, top it with parmesan cheese, and pop it in the oven. The melty cheese and slight crunchiness of crispy pasta add a cozy dimension to your same old pasta dishes.
I’ve written the recipe with a simple tomato sauce, but I’ve made it in many different ways, mostly with vegetable pasta dishes, including pasta with zucchini and asparagus, but with meat dishes too, like tomato and guanciale (cured pork from central Italy). I bet it would be fantastic with sausages.
Easy baked pasta with tomato
- 1 small can (about 14 ounces) of whole canned tomatoes
- 250 grams of pasta (half a standard grocery store box)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 or 3 oil-cured anchovy filets
- A pinch of red pepper chili flakes
- Mozzarella – this amount can vary from a little to a lot depending on the level of cheesiness that you are aiming for.
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Cook the crushed garlic, anchovy filets, and red pepper chili flakes in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a pot or pan big enough to hold the cooked pasta. Cook until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic starts to color. You can then discard the garlic or leave it in.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thick. Taste and add salt if needed but the anchovies are probably salty enough.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C) and cook the pasta al dente in salted water.
- Drain and add the cooked pasta to the pan with tomato and toss. Make sure to save some of the pasta water.
- Toss over high heat while tossing for about 30 seconds. Add more pasta water if needed.
- Place half the pasta in the bottom of a baking dish with sides (my pan was 10″ x 7.5″ x 2″) and layer with a little more than half the mozzarella – either in chunks, diced, or shredded. Layer it with the remaining pasta and then top it with the remaining mozzarella and then cover all of it with a thin layer of grated parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 10 to 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the pasta gets a little crispy.