This oven baked pasta uses a pasta shape from Naples called "schiaffoni" which translates to "a strong slap" that I love to combine with vegetables for my famiglia to enjoy in the fall and winter months. This was a welcome dinner on a cold wintery evening in upstate NY when I was a young girl. —cucina di mammina
16 oz. package of schiaffoni pasta
baby bella mushrooms
white button mushrooms
large bunch of fresh spinach leaves
fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cut
fresh homemade marinara sauce (sugo)
8 oz. container whole milk ricotta
1-1 1/2 teaspoons
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmigiano or romano cheese
fresh basil leaves, washed and dryed
In This Recipe
Wash and trim both packages of mushrooms, cut into medium thick slices. Place in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add a garlic clove cut into chunks, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Place the mushroom mixture on a large flat baking sheet and broil in the oven under high heat until liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden and slightly crispy on edges. Remove from oven, discard the garlic pieces and place in a bowl. Set aside.
Wash, trim and drain the spinach leaves until almost dry. In a large skillet drizzle a good dose of olive oil and add fresh-cut garlic; place on medium heat and allow to sauté until fragrant (do not brown!) Add the spinach leaves and place back on medium heat and stir the leaves until they begin to cook down and mix well with the olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the leaves have cooked down (about 4 to 6 minutes or so) remove from heat, discard garlic and drain any excess liquid from the spinach. Set aside
Place a large stockpot of water to boil and generously salt the water. Once it comes to a full boil drop in the schiaffoni pasta and stir. Cook and stir the pasta until just less than “al dente” (do not overcook.) Remove from heat and drain well. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and mix well; set aside to cool a bit.
Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl; add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, taste the ricotta to be sure your seasonings are where you like them to be.
Drizzle some olive oil into the bottom of a medium to large baking dish or casserole pan. Using a clean paper towel, spread the oil to coat the sides and bottom of the pan.
Start the layering process for this dish with your first layer of marinara sauce, then layer the semi-cooked pasta noodles until the space is covered. Now add another layer of marinara sauce and place some spinach, some mushrooms and finally some of the seasoned ricotta in dollops over the vegetable layers. Sprinkle generously with grated cheese and add some fresh basil leaves to finish your first layer.
Next add more marinara sauce, then the cooked noodles, marinara, spinach, mushrooms, ricotta and then the grated cheese with fresh basil leaves to finish. Repeat this exact same layering process until the last layer which you will top with the ricotta, then marinara, then a more than generous amount of grated cheese and the remaining fresh basil leaves.
Cover the pan loosely with foil wrap and place in a preheated 400 degree oven on middle rack. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes; remove the foil wrap and continue to bake for an additional 10 to 5 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown and the pasta is bubbling on the sides.
Remove from heat and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve this dish with a medium-bodied red wine, a fresh green garden salad of arugula, romaine lettuce, heart of palm and tomatoes dressed simply with olive oil and red wine vinegar (salt and pepper to taste.)