If you are obsessed with the crispy corner pieces of a lasagna, you will want to try this Baked Paccheri Pasta recipe. Yes, this dish is one that takes just a little extra effort. But your hard work will be deliciously rewarded with a dish full of perfectly curated bites.
Helpful Tips for Making this Baked Paccheri Pasta
- You will want to slightly undercook your pasta before you assemble your dish. I find 6 minutes in salted boiling water is just right. This allows for a quick baking time and pasta that is fully cooked with just the surface getting that wonder crispiness.
- When mixing the ricotta with herbs and seasoning, add the seasonings to one third of the ricotta. Mix well and then add the rest of the ricotta. Fold the mix with a spatula to incorporate. You get a better distribution with this method.
- The easiest way to stuff the Paccheri Pasta is using a pastry bag to pipe the ricotta. Otherwise a gallon sized freezer bag with the corner cut is another option. But Pastry bags are definitely easier to work with. I like these ones.
- The recipe calls for reserving some sauce for serving. Pasta can absorb much of the sauce when they are baked. Because of this, whenever I serve a baked pasta I like to have extra sauce on the plate.
- This recipe is for a 3 quart baking dish, or 9 x 13 inches. That is because one pound of Paccheri pasta fits those dimensions just right. But, if you want to split it into two, use two 1.5 quart dishes. I personally like to do this because I can bake one and freeze the other for an easy midweek meal.
Choose Ingredients for this Pacherri Pasta
This guide is intended to help you make sense of selecting the ingredients for this baked paccheri pasta. Mostly of these are common ingredients, but there are a few factors that can lead to a more successful dish.
If you are unfamiliar with Paccheri, it is a variety of penne pasta. Paccheri is similar to rigatoni, but it has a diameter that is twice the size. It comes both smooth or ribbed. Personally I prefer the ribbed option as it tends to hold more sauce and has a greater surface area to get crispy for those perfect bites. Not every grocery store will carry this pasta, but you can easily order it here. Normally I would suggest a substitution for a less rare ingredient, but for this dish only Paccheri delivers.
I do recommend making your own sauce for this baked Paccheri pasta. There is just something special about a homemade pasta sauce. Not only the flavor, but the aroma that fills your home just adds to the dining experience. A hearty Italian Meat Sauce always goes over well in my house hold. Click here for our recipe. But any pasta sauce that you like should work well for this dish.
If you don’t feel up to making your own sauce. There is one pre-made sauce that I recommend, it is the Stanislaus Ultra Premium. This sauce is typically sold commercially in large #10 cans. And it is the “secret recipe” at many fine Italian restaurants. So I was surprised to find it available online in a residential size.
Ricotta is a fresh cheese that has not been pressed or aged. Commonly you will find it labeled as either whole milk or part skim in the United States. Cows milk is the most common, but sheep, goat, and water buffalo varieties are available some places.
For Baked Pacherri Pasta I like to use a whole milk ricotta made from cows milk. I find that the part skim varieties tend to dry out and be less savory when baked.
Ricotta Cheese can be typically found in most grocery stores near the cream cheese or sour cream. It is typically found in a plastic deli style container.
Mozzarella Cheese is the perfect melty cheese over the top of the Baked Paccheri Pasta. But avoid a fresh mozzarella for this recipe. It will release additional moisture into the dish and will not brown as well. Alternatively Monterey Jack or Provolone cheese would be good substitutes.
The Parmesan Cheese I would recommend for making this baked Paccheri pasta should be of a good quality. Either buy a wedge of good Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself, or you can usually find a good quality grated Parmesan in the gourmet cheese cooler. Just a little is used as a garnish, but the saltiness helps bring out even more flavor.
Equipment Needed to Make Baked Paccheri Pasta
These are items that I personally use and recommend. Any purchases made from the Amazon affiliate links below earn a commission that supports content for this website. Or just use them as a guide of what to use.
- Either a 3 quart Baking dish or two 1.5 quart Baking dishes
- Mixing Bowls
- Pastry Bags and a Round Pastry Tip
- Cheese Grater
- Microplane Zester
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Baked Paccheri Pasta
- 1 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
- 2 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
Prepare Pasta Sauce
- If you plan using a home made pasta sauce, prepare it prior to the rest of the recipe. I recommend this Italian Meat Sauce, This will increase the preparation time noted above.48 ounces Pasta Sauce
- Add two tablespoons of kosher salt to a large pot of water, approximately 1½ gallons, and bring to a boil.2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
- Add pasta and simmer for six minutes. Then strain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Lightly toss with olive oil and set aside until assembly. Pasta should be slightly undercooked.16 ounces Paccheri Pasta, 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Prepare Ricotta Filling
- Prepare ingredients by finely chopping basil and parsley. Use a Microplane grater to harvest zest from a lemon.1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, 1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley, 1 Tsp Kosher Salt, ¼ Tsp Lemon Zest, 1 Tsp Black Pepper
- In a mixing bowl, add the herbs, seasonings, and honey to one third of the ricotta. Mix this thoroughly before adding the remaining ricotta. Continue to mix until it appears the herbs are evenly dispersed.24 ounces Whole Milk Ricotta, 1 Tbsp. Honey
- Once fully mixed place the Ricotta filling into a pastry bag. This is best done by folding the opening over a pitcher or a small Bain Marie and scooping the filling into the bag. Set this in the refrigerator until assembly.
- In a 3 quart baking dish, add 2 cups of pasta sauce and spread even.48 ounces Pasta Sauce
- Arrange the cooked Paccheri pasta in the pan vertically. Press the noodles into the sauce. It is okay to leave some small gaps between them for some of the shredded mozzarella Cheese to fall into.48 ounces Pasta Sauce
- Using a piping bag with a round tip, fill the Paccheri Pasta with the ricotta cheese filling.
- Spoon an additional 2 cups of pasta sauce over the stuffed Paccheri.
- Finally, top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Try to press some into the gaps between the pasta. The more of the pasta that can be seen, the more crispy bites you will end up with.12 ounces Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- In a 375 F oven, bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese is the level of brown that you prefer. Rotate pan halfway through the cooking time to get even browning.
- Remove from oven and allow the pasta bake to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.1 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
- Serve with the reserved pasta sauce. I recommend placing some sauce on the plate before spooning a portion of the pasta on the plate.
How This Baked Paccheri Pasta Came to Be…
My inspiration came from a simple question. What if I could recreate the the highly sought crispy corners of lasagna into every bite of a dish?
In my own quest of the perfect crispy lasagna corner throughout a dish. I tried different size pans and concepts over the years. Nothing really worked the way I really wanted it to. Sure, I had made some delicious lasagnas, but they weren’t what I was after.
That is until I discovered Paccheri pasta, it’s size and shape would allow me to try something new. I could stand them upright and leave a small amount exposed at the top that would crisp up nicely. In early tests I was close, but I was missing somthing.
Then in order to replicate the flavor of lasagna, I decided to pipe ricotta into the Paccheri pasta using a pastry bag. Not only was the shape perfect for standing upright and baking to get that crispy bite I was after, but it was just the right size to fill with ricotta. The first time I made this with unseasoned ricotta, and it was still missing something. Adding fresh herbs and seasoning to the ricotta filling was a big improvement.
Sometimes developing recipes can be frustrating. You get close to a dish you really like but know it can be better. So you have to make it again and again until it is right. But when if finally is, it is all worth it.