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Pasta Al Forno

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Perfectly cooked pasta in a tangy tomato cream sauce. Topped off with more cheese and crunchy bread crumbs, this is going to become a new family favorite.

Serve with garlic knots, or breadsticks for the perfect meal.

a close up image of penne pasta, sauce, and bread crumbs.

Pasta al Forno simply means pasta that has been baked in the oven. I love baking pasta as it helps all the flavors come together, and gives you crispy edges and toppings.

This recipe features a pink sauce reminiscent of Olive Garden's Five Cheese Marinara. Then the whole thing is topped off with more cheese, and crispy crunchy bread crumbs. If you like Five Cheese Marinara Olive Garden style, you will absolutely love this recipe.

It is easy to make, and always a family favorite.

Why I Love This Recipe

  1. Easy Peasy: This is so easy to make y'all. No browning meat or chopping veggies required: just dump and bake.
  2. Pink Sauce: Tomato sauce can be too acidic, and alfredo can be too heavy. Mixed together they are the perfect balance of tangy and creamy.
  3. Super Cheesy: There is cheese in the sauce and on top. You can never have too much cheese.
  4. Crunchy Topping: Ultra crispy panko bread crumbs provide a lovely textural contrast.

Ingredient Notes and Shopping Tips

  1. Pasta Shape: I used penne in this recipe as it is what I had in my pantry. Any large pasta with ridges such as ziti, rigatoni, or cavatappi would work well.
  2. Add Protein: This recipe is vegetarian as written. However, you can add your favorite protein such as ground beef, Italian sausage, and cooked chicken.
  3. Cheese: Shred your own mozzarella if you can. It will melt smoother without the cornstarch included in most pre-shredded varieties.
  4. Panko: Panko bread crumbs hail from Japan and have a flakier appearance. Look for panko near the bread crumbs. For me, this is near the oil, but I've also seen them above the bread in some stores.
  5. Ricotta Cheese: Ricotta cheese is a soft smooth cheese that is often used in Italian cooking. You can substitute cottage cheese if you don't have any on hand.

saucy penne pasta on a black plate with a napkin in the background.

How To Make Past al Forno

  1. Cook pasta: Cook pasta until al dente.
  2. Make Sauce: Combine marinara, alfredo, ricotta, and mozzarella.
  3. Mix pasta into the sauce.
  4. Topping: Top with cheese, and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake: Bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.

 

Tips and Tricks

  1. Don't overcook your pasta: You want to cook the pasta al dente which means to the teeth. It should still have some bite to it, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  2. Always salt your pasta water: I use about 1 tablespoon of salt per box of pasta.
  3. Easy Cleanup: Line your pan with nonstick foil for easy cleanup.
  4. Use Foil: If your cheese is cooking too quickly, you can cover your pan with foil while baking.

How Long Does It Last?

  1. Storage: Store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.  Make sure to keep it in an airtight container or to cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  2. Make-Ahead: Assemble pasta and sauce up to 12 hours before baking. Always let your baking dish come to room temperature before sticking it in the oven.
  3. Freezing: Freeze for up to 3 months. You may need to add a little more sauce when reheating. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave.  You can eve make an extra batch of this recipe to store, or to deliver to someone in need.

 

More Pasta Recipes To Try

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce Pasta

Chicken Chipotle Pasta

Chicken Spaghetti

Pizza Pasta

 

a black plate with penne pasta covered in cheese and sauce.

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📖 Recipe

a close up image of penne pasta, sauce, and bread crumbs.

Pasta Al Forno

Perfectly cooked pasta in a tangy tomato cream sauce. Topped off with more cheese and crunchy bread crumbs, this is going to become a new family favorite.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 543kcal

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Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Pasta I used Penne
  • 4 Cups Marinara Sauce
  • 2 Cups Alfredo Sauce
  • ½ Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 ½ Cups Mozzarella Cheese Shredded and Divided
  • ¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese Grated
  • ¾ Cup Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
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Instructions

  • Grease a 9x13 baking dish, or line with non-stick tin foil.
  • Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions for al dente.
  • In a large bowl, combine marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, ricotta, and ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Fold in pasta.
  • Pour into a prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese.
  • In a small bowl, microwave butter for 30-60 seconds until melted. Stir in bread crumbs until coated. Sprinkle on top of cheese.
  • Bake for 30-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Notes

Ingredient Notes and Shopping Tips

  1. Pasta Shape: Any large pasta with ridges such as ziti, rigatoni, or cavatappi would work well. 
  2. Cheese: Shred your own mozzarella if you can. It will melt smoother without the cornstarch included in most pre-shredded varieties. 
  3. Ricotta Cheese: You can substitute cottage cheese if you don't have any on hand.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Don't overcook your pasta: You want to cook the pasta al dente which means to the teeth. It should still have some bite to it, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  2. Always salt your pasta water: I use about 1 tablespoon of salt per box of pasta.
  3. Easy Cleanup: Line your pan with nonstick foil for easy cleanup. 
  4. Use Foil: If your cheese is cooking too quickly, you can cover your pan with foil while baking. 
 

 

Nutrition

Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1411mg | Potassium: 589mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 947IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 2mg
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Nice pasta, I am a big fan of pasta dishes...and my family too. Thanks for such beautiful recipe.