Pasta al Forno Siciliana


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves



Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

This is what my Sicilian friends have for Sunday lunch. Traditionally, there are larger chunks of meat in the ragù, along with sausage and sometimes slices of boiled egg. It’s normally followed by a crumbed meat or chicken cutlet and green salad. They say the lettuce is always there, one way or another. You’ll need a 6 cm (2½ inch) high, 30 x 22 cm (12 x 8½ inch) baking dish.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • ½ teaspoon chopped oregano
  • ½ teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) red wine
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water
  • 200 g (7 oz) frozen peas
  • 450 g (1 lb) rigatoni pasta
  • 150 g ( oz) thinly sliced ham, torn up
  • 250 g (9 oz) mozzarella, roughly chopped
  • about 4 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus extra, for serving


Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and sauté the onion until golden. Add the garlic and sauté until it smells good, then add the minced beef. Brown the beef over quite a high heat, stirring often to break up any lumps. Stir in the oregano, thyme and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Stir through the wine and when that has been absorbed, add the passata and water. Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring now and then. It must be a lovely loose ragù, so add a little water towards the end of cooking if necessary. Toss the peas in and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni to a couple of minutes short of the instructions on the packet. Drain.

Scoop a couple of ladlefuls of the ragù onto the bottom of the dish. Add half the pasta, pressing it along to level it. Ladle over half the remaining ragù and top with all the ham. Scatter half the mozzarella over, then follow with 2 tablespoons of parmesan. Now add the rest of the pasta and press it down firmly. Scrape out the rest of the ragù over the top. Scatter the remaining mozzarella and parmesan over. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until it is a bit crusty on top here and there, and golden around the edges. Scoop out portions and serve with extra parmesan.