Mom's Pasta al Forno


Mom used to make this pasta al forno on special days, like on holidays and a lot of Sundays. It was a big treat for us. It is a lot of work because of all the ingredients that you have to layer on the pasta but it's well worth it. You can choose whatever you like in the ziti, but we love it just like this. It's filling and it's good.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 25 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 55 mins
1 9x13-inch baking dish



  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 medium onion, sliced

  • 3 (15 ounce) cans tomato puree

  • 4 ¼ cups water, or to taste

  • 6 tablespoons white sugar

  • 6 leaves fresh basil

Ziti and Filling:

  • 2 pounds ziti

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 (8 ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 (15 ounce) can green peas, drained

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced, ends discarded

  • 1 (16 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion; saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato puree and water; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and basil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. While the sauce is cooking, bring a very large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir ground beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease. Add ground beef to cooked pasta. Mix in enough tomato sauce to lightly coat the pasta.

  4. Mix ricotta cheese and water in a bowl until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  6. Spread a ladleful of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add 1/2 of the pasta, all of the ricotta cheese, peas, and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese. Layer the sliced eggs on every section of the pasta; cover with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Pour remaining pasta, Parmesan cheese, sauce, and mozzarella on top. Cover with aluminum foil.

  7. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting, so slices don't fall apart.

Cook's Notes:

If you like a thicker sauce, use about 3 1/2 cups water instead.

Olive oil may be used in place of vegetable oil, if desired.

Instead of layering the peas in the casserole, you can add them to the ground beef, pasta, and sauce mixture.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

561 Calories
19g Fat
68g Carbs
30g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 14
Calories 561
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 111mg 37%
Sodium 771mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 68g 25%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 12mg 62%
Calcium 410mg 32%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 736mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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