Pasta and Beef Al Forno

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 has 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.  

What to buy (serves 5-6):

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1 handful of spinach, fresh or frozen

From the store cupboard:

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves
  • 1 pound of dried penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil

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