Is it too soon for another pasta recipe? Trick question… it is NEVER too soon for another pasta recipe.
To be honest, I was going to save this post for a later time, but I’ve been feeling the pressure from Chew Town’s social followers to get the recipe up ASAP. You see, Chew Town’s Instagram is my way of announcing what is coming up on the blog (a bit like the piece preview in Tetris that you only remember to look at while the game is in its early stages and you are still blissfully calm), and after posting a pic of this Pasta Verticale (Honeycomb Pasta), I have been inundated with requests for this recipe. So, in the interests of listening to the powers that be and not allowing anyone to harbour any animosity towards me, here it is!
Thanks to my Italian heritage, I am regularly asked by friends to make pasta when they are coming over for dinner. As a result, I’m always trying to present pasta in new and interesting ways so that I am still able to surprise my guests with the meal. I’m convinced people only come over to get their yearly dose of comfort food – which I am only too happy to provide them as an Italian Nonna-in-Training (I’ve almost mastered the “Eat! Eat! You too skinny” line)
This Pasta Verticale is nowhere near as complicated as it looks. Firstly, you make a flavourful mushroom and lamb ragu, layer the sauce and stack the pasta, top with rosemary and cheese and bake. No need for a bechemel sauce with this baby, the lamb and mushroom flavour will hit you square in the face and have you smacking your lips together with glee.
The term Pasta Verticale (if it isn’t obvious already) simply means Vertical Pasta but you will also see it referred to as honeycomb pasta in English thanks to the birds eye view of the dish while you are making it resembling a beehive. Regardless of the name you choose to call it, I call it delicious and well worth making.
Lamb and Mushroom Pasta Verticale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
- 500g lamb mince
- 4 long sprigs of rosemary, the leaves of 2 sprigs finely diced
- 5 medium mushrooms, finely diced
- 1 x 650-750g bottle tomato passata
- 500g dried Paccheri Pasta (large tube pasta)
- 150g Italian ricotta cheese
- Large handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy based fry pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, then add mince, chilli and the chopped rosemary and fry (breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon) until the mince has browned. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3-5minutes. Pour in the tomato passata and season with salt and pepper. When the mixture is boiling, turn down the heat to low and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and once boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes until the pasta is starting to soften. Drain the water from the pasta.
To the base of your serving dish, spoon in half of the sauce mixture and dot the sauce with half of the fresh ricotta. Stand the paccheri tubes upright in the mix, making sure they fit together tightly and are pressed to the base of the dish. Spoon the remaining lamb sauce over the top of the tubes ensuring that it covers and goes into the tubes. Dot the remaining ricotta into random pasta tubes and sprinkle the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top, then push in sprigs of the remaining rosemary leaves.
Place in the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the top is golden. Serve immediately.