In my mind, Italian food is synonymous with comfort food. When I think of a fill-your-belly-and-soul sort of meal, I think of pasta. It makes me happy. One of my favorite Italian comfort foods is Baked Pasta.
My grandmother made this dish, and she taught my mom how to prepare it. Now my mom has passed the recipe on to me. It has everything I love in a pasta dish and reminds me of being a kid again. Plus, it’s super easy. As with most of the food I make, I often customize it by adding sautéed mushrooms and ground beef or by using homemade sauce. For the most part, Italian food is simple peasant food—delicious and easy to prepare.
I think “unpretentious and tasty” describes this dish to a T. It starts with 5 simple ingredients and ends with a bubbling casserole the whole family will love.
Grating the cheese is something I like to do. But on days when I want to save time, I buy cheese that is already grated. Because the pasta will continue to cook while baking, I undercook it a bit so that it doesn't get too soft or too mushy. I find that cooking the pasta 3 minutes less than the recommended time on the packaging works well, but this is just my preference. You can always cook your macaroni the way you like it.
Once I layer in half of the pasta with some sauce, I add grated Parmesan cheese, dollop on the ricotta, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and then repeat.