Pancetta and Escarole Baked Pasta

Bake crispy pancetta and sauteed escarole into a pasta casserole with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min (includes resting time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6
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Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand

One 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand

4 large sprigs fresh basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound diced pancetta

1/2 head escarole, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound dried penne

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat slightly, add the basil sprigs and simmer rapidly, uncovered, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the basil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the escarole and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes; transfer to the bowl with the pancetta.
  4. Cook the penne in the salted boiling water until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan to the bowl and stir well to combine. Transfer the pasta to a 3- to 4-quart baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until browned, about 15 minutes. Let the pasta stand about 10 minutes before serving.