It’s my perception that something tastes extra scrumptious if formed right into a cake and sliced into wedges. Sure, baked ziti stuffed right into a casserole dish is nice — however generally I want my dinner to really feel as whimsical and joyful as a layer cake draped in flowers and candles. So, I ask myself, will it cake?
Seems that baked pasta will fortunately turn out to be cake. (In any case, what might prime the timpano — a drum-shaped pasta behemoth filled with laborious boiled eggs and meatballs — assembled by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub within the culinary traditional Large Evening?) The trick is to make use of a hole tubular pasta, like ziti or rigatoni, which you’ll organize right into a springform pan and layer with globs of tomato sauce and cheese, which the noodles will take in like thirsty straws. A ribbon of blanched greens seasoned with olive oil and parmesan runs by means of the entire thing, including freshness and shade.
You would simply add your individual layer cake twists, like stirring a bit crumbled sausage or anchovies into the pasta sauce, or including a sneaky layer of sentimental roasted root greens tossed in pesto. Enhance your closing masterpiece simply as you’d a layer cake — for me, a fluffy crown of recent basil provides a candy, triumphant contact — and, actually, I’ll eat this over precise cake any day.
Pasta Layer Cake
half-hour energetic time; 45 minutes inactive time
1 10-ounce field frozen spinach (or 1 bunch recent spinach or kale)
1 pound tubular pasta (like ziti or rigatoni)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tsp chili flakes (non-obligatory)
1 24-ounce jar of tomato sauce (like Rao’s spicy Arrabbiata)
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce bag shredded low-moisture mozzarella
½ recent mozzarella ball (about 4 ounces), sliced into skinny rounds
1 bunch recent basil
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
If utilizing thawed frozen spinach, wring out as a lot extra water as attainable utilizing your palms or a cheesecloth. If utilizing recent kale or spinach, convey a big pot of water as much as a boil, add a tablespoon of kosher salt, and blanch for two to three minutes. Take away greens with tongs and rinse below chilly water.
Convey the water again to a boil and cook dinner the pasta till very al dente (about 8 to 9 minutes for rigatoni, or 4 minutes lower than the field instructions). Pressure the pasta and rinse with chilly water.
Drizzle a bit olive oil on the underside and sides of a cheesecake-sized springform pan. Chop the spinach or kale finely, then switch to a small bowl. Add ¼ cup parmesan, one egg, the remainder of the olive oil, and stir till clean. Add an enormous pinch of salt and black pepper and put aside. (If you happen to’d wish to make it spicy, add a teaspoon of chili flakes).
Mix the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes in one other small bowl (the crushed tomatoes perks up jarred sauce and makes it the proper consistency for a juicy cake).
Line the underside of the oiled springform pan with the cooked pasta; stand every bit up straight, like candles. (Begin by lining the sting of the pan, the place the springform partitions permit the pasta keep upright). Proceed so as to add pasta till your entire backside is roofed.
Spoon half of the tomato sauce on prime of the pasta; gently rap the cake pan in opposition to the counter to let the sauce fall into all of the pasta crevices.
Add half of the shredded mozzarella cheese on prime, then prime with the remaining grated parmesan. Spoon the seasoned greens on prime of the cheese, then organize the remaining pasta on prime, in a pinwheel form or in rows.
Lastly, unfold the remaining tomato sauce on prime, then prime with the remainder of the grated mozzarella. End the cake with the sliced mozzarella. (At this level, you might switch the cake pan, well-wrapped, to the freezer the place it should maintain for as much as a month).
Place the springform pan on a baking sheet or casserole dish (to catch any leaking sauce), then switch to the preheated oven. Bake for half-hour, or till the highest is bubbly and golden brown.
Let cool for 10 to fifteen minutes, then run a butter knife across the sides of the pan to loosen and thoroughly take away the springform collar. Enhance the cake with a complete bunch of basil so it seems bountiful and smells aromatic. Slice into wedges and serve.
Natasha Pickowicz is a Brooklyn-based chef and author, greatest recognized for her pastry pop-up By no means Ending Style and her group bake gross sales, which positioned her on the Time100 Subsequent checklist. Natasha’s debut cookbook, which weaves baking recipes with tales of her household, social justice, and meals historical past, comes out this spring. You possibly can pre-order right here, for those who’d like.