Recipe: Wild Mushroom Ragù Macaroni

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Photo by Maria Robledo


My friend's ancient Italian grandmother calls this rustic baked pasta dish "the Big Macaroni". The casserole is an excellent dish to serve for a dinner party because you can assemble it up to a day ahead.

4 to 6 servings

    • 1 teaspoon olive oil or butter
    • Salt
    • 1 pound tubular pasta, such as ziti or penne
    • Wild mushroom ragù (see recipe)
    • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
    • Freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 8 ounces ricotta salata cheese or fresh, lightly salted mozzarella, thinly sliced or shaved

Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart casserole dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt well and stir in the pasta. Cook the pasta until slightly underdone, a little firmer than al dente, (the pasta will continue cooking in the oven). Drain the pasta and plunge it into a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking, running cold tap water on it until it is completely cool. Drain well again, dry the bowl and return the pasta to it.

Add the ragù to the pasta and toss until they are thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the Parmesan and pepper to taste and toss again. Pour half the mixture into the prepared casserole. Arrange the ricotta salata shavings over the top, cover with the remaining pasta, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the pasta until heated through and the top is lightly browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve at once.

Advance Preparation: You may assemble the casserole up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Allow to come to room temperature 2 hours before baking.

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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