Close your eyes for a minute. Let me take you back through time. Two weeks ago. Feels like forever.
The evening hours were drawing near and I had retreated to bed for the night. My nighttime routine consists of the following:
- brush teeth, wash face
- change into PJs
- watch Ina and/or Giada in bed
I thought I was ready for bed until I saw Giada make Pasta alla Formiana. It’s this crazy tomato and pasta casserole that involves no less than 1/4 C of dried oregano. That and the fact that the pasta cooks in the oven in a tomato sauce bath sent me reeling from my bed to the kitchen.
Well, no, but I did watch it a second time. And I made it last night. Crazy stuff. This is a unique casserole–not for the faint of heart. If you aren’t sure where you stand on tomatoes or oregano, this is not for you. But if you can handle those two ingredients in large doses, you’re about to strike gold. This takes about 3 minutes to put together before you let the oven do its thing.
You will need
- 1, 28 oz. can tomatoes, crushed or whole
- 1 clove garlic
- 4-5 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 8 oz. penne or mini-penne pasta
- 1/3 C olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 C dried oregano
- 2 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
- butter for greasing
- Parmesan cheese for serving
* A note: It will take everything you have not to add something else to the list of ingredients. Mozzerella, thyme, anything. But you’ll lose out on the strong tomato and oregano flavor. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Preheat the oven to 450 (That’s what Giada said. I did 425 because I’m afraid of glass in 450. Anyone want to weigh in on that?).
Grease an 8 x 8 dish with butter. Layer the tomatoes in the bottom and along the sides of the dish.
Pulse the tomatoes and garlic in the food processor until blended. Add to a bowl with the olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and penne. Pour evenly over the bed of tomatoes.
Layer the remaining tomato slices on top, so that the pasta mixture is covered completely. Drizzle with olive oil. When you put the dish in the oven, be sure to put a cookie sheet on the rack underneath, as the tomato sauce will bubble up and over the dish. Bake until the tomatoes are crispy and the pasta has cooked through, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Top with lots of cheese.