Nadia G’s Penne al Forno

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"This penne pie was my Nonna Carmela's specialty. Well that, and saying, 'Ye, ye, ye,' when she didn't understand a word you were saying."

By Nadia G

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Serves 6

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 red onion, minced
1 lb. ground sirloin
3 cups canned San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. penne (approx. 1 package)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup mozzarella, finely grated
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and chili flakes, and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add red onion and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until onion has some crispy edges. Add ground sirloin and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until beef crumbles.
  2. Pour in plum tomatoes, then add parsley, oregano, bay leaf, raw sugar, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered.
  3. Cook penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente, about 10 minutes. (You don't need to fully cook the pasta because you'll also be baking it.) Drain.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add penne to a large bowl and mix in half of the bolognese. Generously grease a baking dish with unsalted butter. Add a 1-inch layer of penne, 1/2 cup of sauce, 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella and a heaping tablespoon of grated parmigiano. Repeat this until all the pasta is used. Top it off with grated mozzarella and parmigiano cheese. Bake in oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.

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