A few years ago a film was made about a meal -- it wasn't the first, nor will it be the last, but in this case the restaurant where it all took place was Italian, and the main dish was a timpano, which is a rich pasta dish that's baked in the oven.
As one might expect, the film spawned a great flurry of recipe requests on the Rec.Foods. A cooking newsgroup that was met with all sorts of tasty-looking responses.
Some hewed fairly close to what was pictured in the film, with sausages and hard-boiled eggs mixed in with the pasta, while others went much farther afield. The variety was fascinating but didn't come as a surprise.
As anyone who visits Italy rapidly realizes, pasta may be the national dish, but it's not a monolith: In adapting it to suit local traditions and ingredients, Italian cooks have produced an infinite variety of forms and preparation methods. While many of these dishes are quickly made, there also special occasions that beg something more, and then the idea of combining cooked pasta and other ingredients to produce a casserole becomes quite obvious.
The best-known of these dishes is of course lasagna, which also serves to show how much-baked pasta varies from region to region: Tuscans and Emilia-Romagnans make it with béchamel sauce, sugo alla bolognese, and grated Parmigiano; Ligurians make it with pesto sauce and serve up as a refreshing summer dish; Calabrians (among others) use ricotta salata -- salted ricotta -- and Neapolitans make an extraordinarily sumptuous Carnival lasagna with ricotta and a variety of other ingredients.
Beyond lasagna the variety becomes infinite: Almost any kind of pasta except thin-stranded spaghetti, which would overcook, can be used as a base for pasta al forno, baked pasta. Nor is the choice limited to plain pasta and sauce; in many dishes, the pasta is baked in a pie crust (at which point the recipe is a pasticcio di...
). Perhaps the most extraordinarily rich of these dishes, true festival food that's perfect in the dead of winter, is the Emilian pasticcio di tortellini. But you needn't wait the winter months -- there's something for every season, and every sort of occasion too.
Lasagna and other Baked Pasta Recipes
- Artichoke Lasagna, or Pasticio de Ciochi
A rich, aristocratic lasagna recipe from Vicenza's Marchesi Roi.
- Alessio's Baked Pasta With Artichokes
A slightly simpler recipe that's quite tasty, and perfect for company too.
- Lasagne al Pesto
An unexpectedly refreshing Ligurian summer dish.
- Lasagne al Forno
The traditional Northern Italian Lasagne, made with sugo alla bolognese, béchamel sauce, and Parmigiano.
- Lasagne Alla Calabrese con Ricotta
A rustic Calabrian lasagna made with salted ricotta and tomatoes, perfect for the summer months.
- Lasagne con Ricotta e Radicchio
This lasagna with radicchio, in which the bitterness of the radicchio balances the creamy sweetness of the cheeses, is quite nice.
- Lasagne alla Ricotta
More Neapolitan extravagance, a wonderful winter dish that will again stun your guests and take you all of Lent to recover from.
- Lasagne alla Ricotta
A simple, very tasty Italian American version of a spectacular Neapolitan Carnival dish.
- Lasagne al Salmone e Robiola
Lasagna with salmon and creamy robiola cheese will be ideal for an elegant meal during Lent, if you feel like fish, a romantic occasion, or if you're celebrating Christmas Eve.
- Lasagne Allo Speck
Lasagna is an extraordinarily variable dish. This particular version, with speck and pears, is modern, and will (if made for 2) be perfect for romantic occasions too, especially Valentine's Day.
- La Grande Lasagna di Carnevale
A spectacular, sumptuous Neapolitan Carnival dish that will stun your guests and take you all of Lent to recover from. But it's worth it!
- Lasagne con La Mozzarella
An extremely easy cheesy lasagna made with mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese. Comfort food for a family meal.
- Lasagna Di Testarolo con Ragout di Cinghiale
An unusual, and very tasty variation on lasagna, served with a meaty game sauce
- Lasagna Tordellata
A simple tomatoey lasagna with ground beef from Massa, on the Tuscan coast.
- Open Lasagna with Broccoli and Pistachio Nuts: Lasagne Aperte Coi Broccoli ed i Pistacchi
An extremely elegant dish that will delight your guests. Easy to make, too.
- What's in a Name? Or, a Different Pastiera
Pastiera is usually a sumptuous grain pie laced with oranges that no Neapolitan would feel right without on Easter. However, the word can have other meanins, and here is Anette's Mom's savory pastiera, eggy, cheesy baked pasta that's perfect picnic food and ideal for Pasquetta, Easter Monday.
- Pasticcio di Tortellini all'Emiliana
It's hard to imagine anything more festive than a tortellini pie.
- Pasticcio di Maccheroni
Artusi's version of a rich Emilian dish used to celebrate Carnival -- and what happened to the man who ate one all by himself.
- Pasta O Furnu Catanisa
A hearty Sicilian baked pasta with eggplant and meat balls.
- Ravioli and Crescione Pie: Ravioli Pasticciati col Crescione
If you have leftover ravioli, what could be better than baking them in a tasty cheesy greenful pie?
- Sfogliette in Grasso
A Kosher pasta dish that calls for goose fat rather than butter, allowing one to eat meat as a second course following it.
- Sformato di Bucatini al Forno
An elegant Neapolitan timballo with lots of mushrooms.
- Timballo di Maccheroni alla Siciliana
A somewhat lighet version of a classic Sicialian baked pasta dish, with eggplant but no meat.
- Timpano di Scamarro Imbottito
An elegant Neapolitan timpano that's perfect when you're cooking a meatless meal.
- Taganu di Aragona
A rich, eggy Easter timballo from Aragona, in the province of Agrigento.
- Timballo di Spaghetti con le Melanzane
An unusual pasta pie whose crust is made of eggplant rather than dough. Perfect for the summer months!
- Timpano di Peperoni
A zesty baked pasta dish with a bell pepper shell that will be wonderful in summer.
- U Tembène o' Furne
A rich, meaty timballo from Altamura, to start out Christmas Dinner.
- Fusilli al Formaggio
Hearty fusilli baked in a cream sauce.
- Maccheroncini al Prosciutto
Quick, easy, and hearty -- good pizzeria food.
- Vegetarian Lasagne
There are many variations on vegetarian lasagne. This features eggplant and tomatoes.
An elegant baked pasta dish from the Marche, with a red chicken giblet sauce and lots of besciamella too.
- Walnut Lasagna
The concept of lasagna is extraordinarily variable. Here walnuts play a leading role.
- Orecchiette ai Funghi Porcini
An interesting baked pasta dish from Puglia.
- Cannelloni all'Etrusco
Cannelloni stuffed with a delicate mushroom filling.
- Cannelloni alla Besciamella
A quick, simple meat filling, and a creamy sauce to go with it.
- Cannelloni alla Provenzale
A heartier filling, with pork and spinach, which will be wonderful in winter.
- Cannelloni con Peperoni e Olive
Woodsy cannelloni with a wild mushroom filling.
- Cannelloni Con Ricotta e Salsiccia
A tasty cheese and sausage filling for cannelloni.
- Soufflé di Tagliatelle
A surprisingly delicate soufflé with lots of grated cheese.
About Baked Pasta