Oh, I was so excited about this one. I was scrolling through social media when I saw a spring form cake pan used for an italian dish. It wasn’t lasagna for them, but that’s how I saw it! Yummy AND fun! Challenge Accepted!!
I will admit that a good portion of my meal ideas come from a picture, video, or something I see on TV… I simply see the image and my mouth starts watering for a specific taste…. and knowing what it takes to create that taste, so I start plotting!
I visited the local store looking for the right noodles and came up empty handed… so I sort of moved on for a while, thinking I’d have to get creative with that part, which wasn’t an issue, but my husband was out of town for a few days, so I was in no hurry to make a giant cheesy dinner just for me. I figured I might just have to make my own lasagna noodles, in a circle and make it a less creative cake, sure boring lasagna noodles could work… but they are also SOOO easy to make.
It was when I visited one of the organic specialty stores in town that I spotted the Paccheri noodles, which I had previously referred to as giant rigatoni noodle type things… evidently that is incorrect and these monsters have their own name.
The first night he was back home, I started my dinner prep early. I didn’t really know how long it would take to get everything done, but I was also very excited about putting such a meal together. I don’t make lasagna very often because I have always had the impression that you have to make giant pans of it… This just made it so much easier and more convenient to have lasagna without all the guilty left overs, right?
Surprisingly, it was pretty easy. I fully expected this to be some sort of one time event, as lining up noodles in a cake pan didn’t sound like it was going to be a weekly thing I’d be doing. But it was a lot less daunting that I imagined. I can easy see adding this to the rotation, and bonus… Amazon will bring the giant rigatoni noodle things to me! (link in the recipe)
I did try a few different spring form pans… I mean, I have 1 for the instant pot, which is about 6″, and then one much larger… probably only 8″, but significant enough. There was a few inches of gap in the larger one, which I did contemplate filling with meat balls, veggis or cheese sticks… but I stuck with the smaller pan. Ultimately, I’m the only one in the house that eats left overs, so I didn’t see this being a meal that I wanted to see the next day… I mean, there’s a lot of quality ingredients in it, sure… but a significant amount of cheese, so lets just stick to the one meal and not feel guilty the next day, huh?
The noodles are simple and they hold together surprisingly well, as long as you only half cook them. They harden back up after you rinse with cold water though, so I probably could have cooked them a minute longer. I wanted them to softened and easy to line up in the pan, but I also wanted them to hold their shape after they were baked, so they needed to be able to cook for a while in the oven.
The layer of sauce on the bottom does help the noodles stand while you place them. I added a good thick layer, just enough to cover the bottom and give the noodles substance to sit in. I was using my own homemade heirloom tomato sauce, but a simple can of tomato would work. Crushed tomatoes are going to be best… a little liquidy, but also gives some chunkiness that won’t just soak into the noodle and leave your lasagna dry after baking. I have found that a simply tomato sauce with salt just tastes better, but you could probably use your favorite jar of pasta sauce, if you want to make it your own.
My brilliance of cheese piping, mentioned in the recipe came much after the meal was done… While sipping wine, on the couch, reminiscing about my brilliantly gorgeous, delicious meal… “why didn’t I just pipe the cheese mix into the noodles…. duh!” So… save yourself the trouble and mess, and just pour the cheese mix into a baggy of some sort, a quart bag works… cut a corner off the bag, big enough to squeeze cheese into each tube… and start filling. I may have looked a little silly shoveling cheese mix into each noodle and tamping the pan to get it to settle… don’t do that way if you can help it.
I used a small tub of ricotta, a small tub of parmesan, and with all the herbs, the egg and a little salt and pepper, you could fill all of the noodles pretty well, but just in case, fill them partially and come back to finish the tops. You don’t want empty noodles left at the end.
I know that you don’t normally add egg to lasagna. The egg was added to also add a little holding power to the cheese mix. Initially, I was thinking a baked spaghetti type mix, the egg is to give it hold.
After you fill the noodles, just pour more of the tomato sauce over the top and let that bad boy sit in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Watch it, since I’m at a higher altitude and also pretty new to keeping track of measurements and cook times… I say ‘About 30 min’.
I chose to use fresh mozzarella to finish it off, but I can see how shredded would work as well. It’s up to your own tastes. Just throw that on at the end and put it back in the oven until the cheese is good and melted.
Once it was done, I did invite everyone in to the kitchen to help me. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, so just in case it ended up as a noodle soup, I wanted witnesses.
I did carefully put a small spatula along the sides… trust issues with things sticking to the pans. But once we de-springed… the sides came off perfectly and the whole pasta pie was perfect!!!
I topped it with some fresh basil and we served it up. I also love a good spice, so my serving also had chili pepper flakes and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. YUM!
Because it is a heavier meal, I do like to get the intestines charged and ready first, so a nice arugula salad with a homemade White Balsamic Italian Dressing goes perfectly. And of course, don’t forget a nice glass of Cab to make your fancy meal truly feel like a night out at a fancy restaurant!!
- 6" Spring form cake pan
- 1 Package Paccheri Noodles Harder to find, but you need the size.
- 1 can Crushed Tomatoes Or pasta sauce
- 15 oz Ricotta Cheese
- 4 oz Shredded Parmesan
- 4 oz Fresh Mozzarella Small ball, or you could also use shreds
- 1 tblsp Italian Seasoning Or use fresh chopped Italian seasonings of your choice
- 1 Large Egg
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 small Shallot
- Boil water and cook noodles till barely aldente. You want them to have some flex, but not done, they'll cook fully later. Rinse the noodles will cool water in the strainer, to stop their cooking. They may become slightly hard again at this point. That's ok, you just don't want to cook them from raw, in the oven.
- Stand each noodle up in the spring form pan. 1 bag should fill at 6" pan, so if you want a larger pie, get a second bag.
- Heat the oven to 350
- Finely chop your garlic cloves, shallot or onion, and if using fresh herbs, those too.
- Mix herbs, garlic, onion with the ricotta and parmesan fully, then add in the egg and mix well. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper if desired.
- Put a solid layer of the crushed tomatoes on the bottom of the pan.
- For best results and full noodles, place cheese mixture into a sandwich bag and cut a small (about 1/2 inch) hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe the cheese mix evenly into the noodles.
- Top the whole pie with a good layer of more crushed tomato sauce.
- Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 before you top with the fresh mozzarella to avoid it burning. Cook for another 10 minutes with the mozzarella then remove.
- Slide a spatula or butter knife along the sides to ensure noodles are not stuck to the spring form, then release.
- Sprinkle with fresh diced basil and ENJOY!