Italian flat leaf parsleyto garnish, fresh, chopped
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Pecorino Romano Cheeseto garnish
Prepare the Tomato Sauce. If more convenient can use commercial.
Make the meat mixture:
While the tomato sauce is simmering, sauté the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until beginning to soften (3-4 minutes).
Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, a few pinches of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste, and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.
Add the lean minced meat. Saute and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until cooked through about 5-7 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Turn the heat to medium-high. De-glaze pan with 2 tablespoons of white wine.
Drain the fat from the meat and add to the simmering pot of tomato sauce.
Boil the Pasta:
Bring a very large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the pasta.
Cook according to the package instructions minus 3-4 minutes since the pasta continues to bake in the oven.
Note: Add 1-2 cups of the pasta water to the tomato meat sauce. The goal is to have a very “loose” sauce. The extra liquid will be absorbed by the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the oven grate in the center.
Place the drained pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato meat sauce and mix together thoroughly.
Add 2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Pecorino Romano Cheese, 4 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese, 2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley and 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped basil. Mix thoroughly together.
Place the mixture in a 13 x 9″ baking dish. Top with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Pecorino Romano Cheese, and 4 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese.
Place in a preheated oven and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Taste for doneness.
Place under broiler for a couple of minutes or until the cheese becomes bubbly and begins to turn golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and extra grated cheese.
Taste throughout the preparation and adjust accordingly.
Reduce the total boiling time of the pasta by 3-4 minutes to avoid getting overcooked pasta noodles.
Use lean chicken, veal, beef or sausage.
Add 1-2 cups of pasta water to the tomato/meat sauce. This will be absorbed by the pasta when it is baking.
Allow the casserole dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving
What is the best pasta to use for this pasta casserole? Short pasta with deep ridges such as penne, rigatoni, or ziti. Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.