Pasta al forno alla leccese (Pasta baked in the oven Leccese style)
Enjoy this Leccese spin on traditional lasagna brought to you by our friends in Puglia.
What makes this dish different than many lasagnas is that the meatballs are cooked into the pasta dish, alongside a variety of wonderful Italian cheeses.
This dish makes a great family-style meal or pot luck dish for a summer picnic!
For the pasta:
500g (~18 oz) lasagna noodles
1 liter (~34 oz) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 ounces of sliced mortadella
7 ounces of Scamorza cheese (similar to Mozzarella)
Salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil
For the meat balls:
300g of minced veal, 2 tablespoons of parmesan
Salt, pepper, chopped parsley, a little pinch of crushed garlic
a small amount of breadcrumbs and 1 egg
First prepare a sauce by sautéing the onion in a pan, add the tomato sauce and tomato paste, cook slowly and add salt to taste. While that is cooking, prepare the meat balls, no bigger than an hazelnut and fry them in olive oil. Drain and leave them on kitchen paper. Boil the eggs, leave to cool in some cold water, peel and cut them into slices. Cut the scamorza cheese into cubes and chop up the mortadella. Boil some salted water and add the pasta until it is cooked “al dente”, drain and lay on
a clean cloth to dry.
Cover the bottom of an oven proof dish with the tomato sauce, then layer in the pasta, followed by the meat balls, cheese, mortadella, boiled egg, more tomato sauce, fresh ground black pepper and a dusting of parmesan. Repeat these steps until you reach the top layer, which should be tomato sauce and cheese. Bake at 180° for at least 20/25 minutes.
Cover and let cool 10 minutes before serving.