Anelletti al Forno, Little Baked Pasta Rings

anelletti al forno

Anelletti is a pasta type that is ring shaped and in this case is baked, ( al Forno) between layers of marinara and bechamel sauce, of course there’s cheese and other goodies included like Italian sausage and peas.

Anelletti al Forno is a wonderful dish to spoon up for a crowd or for a mid week meal for your family, you can even make it meatless if you prefer, kids love it as well as adults because they look like spaghetti O’s.

Recently here in Chicago we had a huge snow storm and woke up to our neighbors shoveling out our long driveway, so as a thank you I brought this dish over to them to have for dinner.

anelletti pasta

As tiny as this anelletti pasta looks they take quite a long time to cook, but for this recipe you’ll want to stop cooking it around three minutes or so before the time on the package because it needs to be nice and al’dente, plus it’s going to finish cooking in the oven anyway.anelletti pasta

anelletti al forno

I like to spread the cooked anelletti onto a rimmed baking sheet so it can cool down faster, then it’s basically like making a lasagne, just have all your ingredients ready to go so you can start layering it into your baking dish.

Years ago on the blog I did another version of anelletti al forno but it was pressed and baked into a spring form pan, it’s really a pretty presentation when un-molded, check it out here.anelletti al forno

This recipe is very easy to prep the day before, no stress or clean up the day you’ll be serving it. Have it ready to go as in the picture above, just cover with foil and pop it into the fridge.anelletti al forno

Then on serving day, take it out and get it to room temp before baking, that’s it!anelletti al forno

The bechamel mingles with the marinara and parmesan cheese and creates a creamy, luscious sauce that envelopes the anelletti pasta so well.anelletti al forno

Like I said there are many versions of this dish, I got inspired to add the bechamel from a video I saw on Rosella’s Cooking with Nonna, and I’m so glad I did because it really makes the sauce dreamy.

I like the flavor of Italian sausage so I used that but other versions use ground meats. Also in my house I always have homemade marinara stashed in my freezer seasoned with garlic and basil, so that’s what I used here, s you can make homemade yourself or to make things easier and go a little faster  you can use a good quality store bought one, I repeat… Good Quality!  ( I won’t tell).

If you prefer a meatless version, omit the meat and add chunks of fresh mozzarella instead, believe me it’s all good!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Anelletti al Forno, Little Baked Pasta Rings
 
Recipe inspired from Rossella's Cooking with Nonna and The Geometry of Pasta
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. anelletti pasta, (ringed shaped) cooked al'dente at least 3 minutes before cooking time on package, cooled down and set aside
  • 1 lb. mlld Italian sausage, bulk, or links with casings removed and cooked until you see no pink
  • 1½ quarts of marinara sauce, homemade or a good quality store bought with a garlic and basil base
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • basil
  • BECHAMEL INGREDIENTS
  • 4oz. butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Heat oven to 425F.
  3. Cook pasta al'dente, cool it down then add 1 cup of marinara to it, toss and set aside.
  4. Gather all your ingredients before you, the pasta, the cooked sausage, frozen peas, grated cheese, basil leaves and marinara.
  5. Make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and whisk and let it cook a little, careful not to burn, but keep whisking.
  6. Add the milk and whisk until it thickens nicely.
  7. Turn off the heat and fold in half cup of parmesan cheese.
  8. Add spoonfuls of marinara to the bottom of the baking dish. spread half of the pasta on top.
  9. Spoon bechamel over the layer, sprinkle it with sausage and a handful of peas.
  10. Top the layer off with grated Parmesan.
  11. Repeat layer like above with remaining ingredients ending with bechamel and a light layer of marinara.
  12. Top with fresh basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
  13. Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for thirty minutes.
  14. Let it rest before serving around thirty minutes.
  15. NOTE:
  16. Can do a meatless version by replacing the sausage with cubed fresh mozzarella.

 

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Heart Shaped Pizza with Egg for Valentine’s Day Breakfast

heart pizza with egg

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so here’s an idea to turn a regular breakfast into something special, serve your special someone a heart shaped pizza with an egg on top!

A simple margherita pizza consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil is a nice backdrop for the egg  and it tastes super delicious when the cooked yolk oozes out all over the heart shaped pizza.heart pizza with egg

Of course pizza is a blank canvas so feel free to put any of your favorite toppings on, but since this is for a special breakfast I made the egg the focal ingredient as well as the heart shape.heart pizza

You can shape the pizza dough into a heart shape many ways, I usually just take my time and shape it by hand, but this time I tried something different.

I rolled the dough out into a circle, folded it in half, then took a pizza cutter, sliced the V in the center along the crease and did a little trimming around the top to shape it.heart pizza dough

When the shaping is finished, place the dough onto a baking sheet and pull the bottom down slightly into point. I always pre-cook the dough for a few minutes so the shape gets set, then I’ll put the toppings on and stick it back into the oven to finish.heart pizza with egg

A few minutes later you’ll have a perfectly cooked egg with the yolk ready to break open and mingle together with the sauce and cheese.heart pizza with egg

Serve some mimosa’s with this and you’ll have a wonderful, thoughtful Valentine’s Day breakfast or brunch for your special someone, if you’re making it for kids of course omit the booze!heart pizza with egg

Here’s a link to another version I made some years ago using ham, spinach and cheese, equally delicious and fun to serve on Valentine’s Day, or any day you just want to show some love to someone.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Heart Shaped Pizza with Egg for Valentine's Day
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ball of pizza dough, store bought or homemade cut in half or thirds to make smaller, individual size pizza's, room temp for easy rolling..
  • pizza sauce
  • mozzarella, fresh or shredded
  • 1 egg per pizza
  • fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 500F.
  2. grease a baking sheet with olive oil and a dusting of polenta or cornmeal. Note: (If making 2 pizza's and you can't fit both on 1 baking sheet use 2 baking sheets.)
  3. Take your dough ball and cut it in half or thirds rolling one at a time into a circle.
  4. When circle is formed fold dough in half and with a pizza cutter cut the v shape and trim out the top of the heart, then open the dough and you should see a perfectly formed heart, then pull the bottom into a point.
  5. You can also shape the heart by hand, just take your time doing it.
  6. Place the heart shaped dough onto the prepared baking sheet, prick it in a few places with a fork.
  7. Put it into the hot oven for 3 minutes, then remove it, if the dough bubbled up no problem, just prick it so it settles down.
  8. Add the sauce, leaving a little edge bare all around, scatter the cheese around and fresh basil leaves.
  9. In a separate little bowl crack your egg so as not to break the yolk.
  10. Gently pour the egg onto the pizza.
  11. Pop the pizza into the oven and finish cooking until crust is golden and egg is set.
  12. Time will vary depending on how thick your dough is rolled out.
  13. Mine was fairly thin and took ten minutes total, 5 minutes on bottom rack and another five on top rack.
  14. Add more fresh basil and serve immediately.

 

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Pineapple Party Dip for Super Bowl and Beyond

pineapple party dip

This pineapple dip is perfect for game day this Sunday, actually it’s fun to serve at any party, so keep it in mind down the road.

The presentation is fun and it really stands out on your buffet table plus it tastes really delicious. Cream cheese with fresh pineapple chunks and other savory ingredients get molded into the shape of a pineapple then studded with whole pecans, when finished it will take on the look of a whole pineapple, you can swipe it on crackers, raw veggies, fruit, chips, whatever you like.
pineapple top

The process is simple, buy one pineapple, cut the crown off then split the crown in half lengthwise so it can lay flat on your serving platter.pineapple dip

Your cream cheese mixture can be whipped up the day before so all the flavors meld together nicely, you can even pre-shape it into the pineapple barrel shape beforehand, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it the night before.dipping sides

You’ll be using raw, unsalted pecans halves for your pineapple dip, once I counted and it took 70 to cover the cheese mixture which came from an 8 oz. bag, this time I bought a container full and I had extras, which is a good thing.

Just remember whatever kind of platter you’re going to serve it on to make sure you position the barrel of cream cheese with enough room for the crown piece to be placed back on top.

 

pineapple party dip

 

You can start from the top and work your self down placing the pecans on making sure to overlap them and cover the sides and bottom as well, you can also place them from the bottom up, trying your best to cover as much surface as you can.pineapple party dippineapple party dip

 

When completed with the pecans, just place the crown back in position then scatter your crackers and veggies all around.pineapple party dip

 

You still have time to gather up the ingredients to make this party pineapple dip for Sunday game day,  it’s a show stopper and your guests will love it!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Pineapple Party Dip for Super Bowl and Beyond
 
Recipe adapted from The Healthy Foodie Blog
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 fresh, ripe pineapple
  • 1 cup or so of pineapple, finely chopped and drained or squeezed of juice if overly juicy
  • 2 - 8 oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
  • at least an 8 oz. bag of raw unsalted pecan halves, a little more just in case some are cracked. You'll need 70 or so to cover your cream cheese barrel
  • 1 tablespoon, grainy mustard
  • ¼ each of a red, orange and yellow pepper, small dice
  • ⅓ cup of black olives, canned, drained, sliced and chopped ( optional)
  • 2 or 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 heaping tablespoons, fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the crown off of your pineapple, slice the half lengthwise so it lays flat and save. Pick a pineapple crown that's not so big, otherwise it won't look in proportion.
  2. Chop up a cup of so of the pineapple flesh.
  3. In a medium bowl add the softened cream cheese and grainy mustard, beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  4. Now fold in with a spatula the reserved pineapple, colored peppers, chopped pecans, olives, onions and parsley, making sure everything gets incorporated.
  5. It's important to taste at this point, you might want to add more of something to your liking.
  6. Now you can either refrigerate the mixture overnight in the bowl covered with plastic wrap, or on plastic wrap shape the mixture into the barrel shaped pineapple, covered completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate that overnight.
  7. When ready to serve place cream cheese mixture onto your serving platter, remember the crown is going to be placed on top so make sure you allow for that on your platter when positioning the cream cheese.
  8. Place the pecan halves from top to bottom or bottom to top covering the sides as best you can, overlapping the pecans to cover most of the cheese mixture.
  9. Position the crown in place and scatter all your dipping veggies, crackers and chips all around.

 

 

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