There's something beautiful about a pan of baked pasta. It's hot. It's cheesy. And it has that crusty cap crowning the top of it, the accessory that mere bowls of pasta can't match. Before it gets too warm outside, tuck into one of these dishes -- dishes that double as a quick weeknight meal or a dinner-party showstopper. The leftovers (if there are any) will heat up perfectly the next day.
• For more simple, homey pasta dishes, check out our 9 Weeknight Pastas.
• Not in the mood for pasta? Try out our recipe for Eggplant Parmesan.
• Got a question in the kitchen? The Food52 Hotline is here to help!
A truly unique take on baked pasta, this recipe requires a little faith, but not all that much work considering the results. You just whiz the batter up in a blender, and then all you need to do is crank out 10 or so perfect crepes to roll around a simple mixture of ricotta, eggs, parsley and parmesan. Don't skimp on this or on the marinara sauce -- you'll be doing these delicate, creamy manicotti (and yourself) a huge disservice. - Amanda & Merrill
FOR THE PASTA
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups whole milk, plus more as needed to thin the batter
canola oil, to lightly grease pan (see note)
FOR THE FILLING
16 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (click here for a recipe)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
>Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups marinara sauce (this is our favorite)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Add the pasta ingredients to the bowl of a blender. Blend, adding more milk one teaspoon at a time, until batter is a thin, almost runny consistency. Heat a nonstick 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Brush pan lightly with oil, if needed (see note). Hold pan at an angle, and swirl pan as you pour in enough batter to coat bottom of skillet. Cook 30 to 45 seconds, flip and cook for 15 more seconds. And don't forget, the first one or two might end up being sacrificial until you get the hang of swirling the pan.Transfer to a flat dish or tray. Repeat with remaining batter. You should have 8 to 10 "shells" by the end.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread ½ cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish. Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl (see ricotta recipe below if making from scratch); mix well. Lay pasta crepes on a flat surface and spoon an event amount of filling in a long strip down the center of each one. Roll crepes closed, and place seam-side down into the casserole dish. Evenly pour remaining sauce over filled crepes. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over top and bake 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.
I combined mac-and-cheese techniques by par-cooking the pasta, folding it together with a few cheeses, spreading it on a baking sheet, and finishing it in a 475-degree oven. The result was total success -- the muffin top of mac 'n cheese! - Amanda
This is shepherd's pie meets moussaka -- a lamb ragout spiced with cinnamon, oregano, sumac and mint is blended with penne and feta and then topped with a cayenne-scented bechamel. After baking in the oven -- we turned up the heat to 450 degrees for the final 10 minutes -- it emerges crisp on the perimeter with a thick toasted bechamel cap. - Amanda & Merrill
The most important part of this technique? You boil the pasta for barely 5 minutes, allowing the final blast in a flaming hot oven to cook it through to al dente and tinge the edges of the shells a lovely rich brown. - Merrill
This is not your mother's tuna noodle casserole from the sixties! With some simple steps, fiveandspice takes this homey classic into a whole new league. It is hard to imagine how good this really tastes until you just make it. The butter, fresh mushrooms, shallot, fresh herbs, lemon zest, and sherry contribute to this cast of characters to make stars out of tuna noodle. The garlic panko topping adds a dramatic finish. Brilliant. - Sagegreen
When I was younger, this was quite arguably my favorite part of Thanksgiving - even though it didn't occur until a day later! And though I know the addition of nutmeg isn't original to my family, Lord bless whoever thought of that. I love the heavenly scent in the creamy sauce. - QueenOfGreen