with Beef, Homemade Marinara, and Fresh Ricotta
Baked pasta dishes (pasta al forno) are Italian comfort food at its finest. Even if you don’t have a Nonna, you can still appreciate the home-cooked warmth that this dish brings. A pinch of nutmeg in the filling is our little secret—and now it’s yours!
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Preheat the oven to 400 (200c) degrees. Bring a large pot of water with a large pinch of salt to a boil. Halve, peel, and dice the onion. Mince or grate the garlic. Strip the basil leaves from the stems, reserving both.
Add the fusilloni to the boiling water and cook 9-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Set half this onion mixture aside
Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, breaking the meat into pieces, until browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the spinach and a large pinch of nutmeg to the pan and cook, tossing, 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl and combine with ½ cup ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Return the reserved onion mixture to the same pan over medium heat. Add the tomato puree and basil stems to the pan. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, assemble the baked fusilloni: add the fusilloni to the pan with the tomato mixture and toss to combine. Dollop with spoonfuls of the spinach-beef mixture, then sprinkle with mozzarella.
Transfer pan to the oven for about 5 minutes, until melted and bubbly. HINT: If you don’t have an oven-proof pan, transfer the pasta to a baking dish and top with the tomato sauce and cheeses before baking.
Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the baked fusilloni. Serve divided between bowls and enjoy!