Pasta Please: Pasta al Forno!


Baby, it’s cold outside, so let’s have some warming pasta bakes!

I’m excited to host this month’s Pasta Please challenge, founded and run by the delightful Jacqueline, who blogs over at Tinned Tomatoes.  I’m especially delighted by this because August is a cold, dark, tired sort of month, calling for both comfort food and the sort of food that I can make without thinking (I just typed ‘without sleeping’, which is quite the Freudian slip and probably also true).  In other words, pasta.

I had plans, I did, for a truly fiendish pasta challenge.  Plans for a pasta challenge that would demand creativity and wracking of brains, that would leave simplicity far behind, and have everyone shaking their heads and wondering what they were thinking.  But that’s really not in the spirit of this challenge – and, more to the point, I’m way too tired to do anything of the sort.  So instead, this month we have Pasta al Forno – or, in other words, pasta bakes.

Pasta bakes are my ultimate comfort food, mostly because everything tastes better with melted cheese on top.  Growing up, my mother deemed lasagne too fiddly, and would instead make pasta al forno, layering short pasta, slices of mozzarella cheese and bolognese sauce, and baking the whole lot in the oven.  (Just typing that sentence makes me wish that was what we were having for dinner tonight…)  When I first moved out, my Oma brought a casserole of creamy chicken and pasta topped with breadcrumbs, to put in the oven as we unpacked.  And one of the first things I figured out how to cook on my own was tuna mornay – which was invariably stirred through pasta and baked, generally at some time after midnight when my friends and I had cravings…

These days, I like to pretend that I am an adult, so my pasta bakes are much more vegetable oriented – indeed, my tuna mornay has been known to wind up so full of vegetables that there is no room for the tuna.  Sometimes, I skip the cheesy sauce entirely and go for something tomato based, though cheese on top is still mandatory, or maybe chunks of mozzarella, stirred into the pasta and sauce so that one can bite gooey-ly (new word!) into them after baking.  Sometimes, I even make lasagne.  (It’s not that fiddly.  Stuffed pasta shells are where I tend to draw the line.)

So, here’s this month’s challenge in a nutshell: make, and blog about, a pasta bake.  It can be any kind – canneloni, lasagne, shells, or good old pasta al forno.  It can be cheesily decadent or entirely cheese-free (breadcrumbs and herbs still make a surprisingly good topping).  It can be a ten minutes of preparation job, or something that takes you half the day.  It could even be a sweet pasta bake!  So long as it contains pasta and finishes its cooking time in the oven, it will do for this challenge.

Want to join in the challenge?

Here are the rules:

  • Create a pasta bake (see details above).
  • Write a post and add it to the list using the linky at the bottom of this post (if you have problems with the linky, leave a comment or send me an email at 17catherines AT gmail DOT com.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be suitable for vegetarians (I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge of late, but this seems like a good way to re-start it!).
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by August 28.

In your pasta post:


  • If you use Twitter, tweet your post with @tinnedtoms and #PastaPlease and Jac will re-tweet it to her followers; if you add @catescates, I will do the same.
  • Don’t forget to have fun!

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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8 comments for “Pasta Please: Pasta al Forno!

  1. August 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    great theme – can I be cheeky and send in the pasta back I posted a couple of days ago – it would be perfect for this event. (I was sad you dropped off the Anyone can cook because I was excited about the theme and had the perfect Christmas in July post for it !)

    • Catherine
      August 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Johanna,

      Of course you can! And I was sad too – I was really excited about that theme – but I was really under the weather through most of June and early July and it just got too hard. I’ll bring it back in September, and we will certainly have Christmas In July next year…

  2. August 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    excellent – done!

    I did notice you seemed low in energy last month and thought that was the reason you didn’t do the challenge. Hopefully spring will fill you with new energy (though it has felt like spring the last few days – we even had some daffodils out in our garden – crazy – esp as it is an area I don’t think anyone plants anything!)

    • Catherine
      August 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Fabulous, thank you!

      And I hope so, too.

  3. August 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Good call Cate and two entries already. I can’t wait for the roundup.

    Thanks for hosting 🙂

    • Catherine
      August 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks, Jaq!

  4. August 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

    So lovely to make your acquaintance through Pasta Please. I made my dish today, hope to share it with you in the next few days.

    • Catherine
      August 15, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Fantastic! I’ll look forward to seeing it!

      (love your sorbet roses, by the way)

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