Pasta and Beef Al Forno

I like baked pasta dishes (al forno is fancy for baked) because I can put them together ahead of time and after ten minutes in the oven we have a delicious hot dinner.  They’re also stellar reheated for lunch the next day.

For this one I used a very lean ground beef so I didn’t need to drain the drippings after it cooked but if you’re using a fattier beef then you may want to cook the beef first and drain it before adding in the onion, garlic and spinach to cook.  I used a penne pasta but any kind of noodle would be great and I recommend using the best mozzarella you can find for the best taste.  DSC_0105

What to buy (serves 5-6):

  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • spinach
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

What to do:

  • preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat
  • add onion and cook 4-5 minutes, until soft
  • add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant
  • add ground beef to the pan, stirring until browned and cooked throughout
  • add the spinach and a large pinch of nutmeg to the pan, tossing, 2-3 minutes, until wilted
  • add crushed tomatoes, ricotta and basil to the pan, seasoning with salt and pepper
  • simmer for 5 minutes and stir in pasta
  • transfer to an oven-safe baking dish, sprinkle with mozzarella  (or leave in your pan if it is oven-safe) and add pan to the oven for about 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melting and bubbling

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