Bucatini alla pizzaiola

Bucatini alla pizzaiola

In Campania, pasta, primi piatti, Puglia by Frank21 Comments

Most of us don’t much like to use the oven in the dog days of summer, but you might want to make an exception for bucatini alla pizzaiola, a delicious baked pasta dish that sings all the favorite flavor notes of southern Italy. It’s styled alla pizzaiola, literally “pizza style”, for its oregano-scented marinara sauce, the original topping for a Neapolitan pizza before pizza alla Margherita dethroned it as the Ur-Neapolitan pizza. Bits of mozzarella add to the pizza theme. All sorts of dishes can be made alla pizzaiola, including the eponymous  Neapolitan meat dish you may have seen featured here on Memorie di Angelina.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 500g (1 lb) bucatini
  • 750ml (3 cups) of marinara sauce, preferably made with fresh tomatoes
  • A pinch of oregano
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • 200g (7 oz) mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • Grated parmesan cheese, q.b.
  • Salt

For the topping:

  • 2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Oregano
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions

Make the marinara sauce following the recipe found in our post on Tomato Sauce 101, adding a  few fresh basil leaves at the end. Leave the sauce quite loose.

When the sauce is almost done, cook the bucatini in well salted water for no more than 3 minutes, just so they are pliable. (They will still be quite raw on the inside but no worries, they will cook further in the oven.) Drain and mix the pasta with about half the sauce and some grated cheese in a large bowl.

Spread a ladleful of the remaining sauce at the bottom of a baking dish, add some of the dressed bucatini. Sprinkle over half the mozzarella and a pinch of oregano. Repeat with more pasta, mozzarella, sauce and oregano, then just pasta.

Top the final layer of pasta with slices of fresh tomato, the oregano and a pinch of salt, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and drizzle everything with olive oil.

Bake in a hot (200C/400F) oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until browned on top. If you like a crusty top, you can let it run under the broiler for a minute or two at the end. Let the dish rest for at least another 20 minutes before serving. It is also very nice served at room temperature.

Bucatini alla pizzaiola

Notes

Some recipes for bucatini alla pizzaiola you’ll find call for olives and/or capers in the sauce, which sounds like a nice option to me. For a more substantial dish that could serve as a one-course meal, another common variation adds canned tuna to the mix.

Of course, if you use fresh, ripe summer tomatoes from your garden or farmers market for making your tomato sauce, you’ll experience this dish at its best. But  if tomatoes are out of season or you just don’t have access to good fresh tomatoes, you can still make the sauce for this dish with good-quality canned tomatoes or passata di pomodoro. It’ll still be delicious. And the amount of tomato sauce is quite variable, depending on how ‘red’ you like your pasta. I’ve seen recipes calling for much less or much more sauce than indicated here—let your own tastes and instincts be your guide.

And you need not stick to bucatini if you can’t find them (they’re often marketed as perciatelli, their Neapolitan name) or you simply prefer another pasta. Spaghetti go particularly well, but you can also opt for a short pasta like penne. I’ve even seen recipes for orecchiette. (The dish is a favorite in Puglia, even if the ingredients say “Campania” to me.)

Bucatini alla pizzaiola comes in a non-baked version: just make your sauce with a good pinch of oregano (plus olives and capers, if you’re in the mood), and dress you pasta as you would any other; you can add cubed mozzarella as you mix if you like.

Bucatini alla pizzaiola

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4-6

Bucatini alla pizzaiola

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) bucatini
  • 750ml (3 cups) of marinara sauce, preferably made with fresh tomatoes
  • A pinch of oregano
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • 200g (7 oz) mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • Grated parmesan cheese, q.b.
  • Salt
  • For the topping:
  • 2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Oregano
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Make the marinara sauce following the recipe found in our post on Tomato Sauce 101, adding a few fresh basil leaves at the end. Leave the sauce quite loose.
  2. When the sauce is almost done, cook the bucatini in well salted water for no more than 3 minutes, just so they are pliable. (They will still be quite raw on the inside but no worries, they will cook further in the oven.) Drain and mix the pasta with about half the sauce and some grated cheese in a large bowl.
  3. Spread a ladleful of the remaining sauce at the bottom of a baking dish, add some of the dressed bucatini. Sprinkle over half the mozzarella and a pinch of oregano. Repeat with more pasta, mozzarella, sauce and oregano, then just pasta.
  4. Top the final layer of pasta with slices of fresh tomato, the oregano and a pinch of salt, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and drizzle everything with olive oil.
  5. Bake in a hot (200C/400F) oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until browned on top. If you like a crusty top, you can let it run under the broiler for a minute or two at the end. Let the dish rest for at least another 20 minutes before serving. It is also very nice served at room temperature.
http://memoriediangelina.com/2014/08/22/bucatini-alla-pizzaiola/

Comments

  1. I was wondering what size pan you used for this? This does look so amazing for the summer

  2. Hey Frank,
    Just a quick appreciation post. Have just finished making this, and it’s such a lovely twist on the classic quick dish for during the week. Just wanted to note that I couldn’t get my hands on bucatini (they don’t carry it here in most supermarkets), but it turned out quite lovely with some factory De Cecco pasta (I took the one with the longest cooking time) and it came out just fine!

    Love the crunchy spaghetti bits on top ( a proper revenge for the chewy spaghetti bits I used to get in my earliest days of cooking due to lack of stirring the pasta), the overall sweetness of the dish and the tasty mozzarella surprises inside. Will certainly give this a try for lunch tomorrow 🙂

    Thanks again!

    I urge you not to go anywhere and keep up the great work. 😉

    1. Author

      Thanks so much, Rowald, for the kind words! I’m always thrilled to get feedback from readers who try out the recipes at home. And don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!

    1. Author

      I wonder if there’s that sweet spot when tomatoes are still in the market and the temperatures have cooled off….

      1. Yes, I definitely think so Frank! I sometimes feel like a little squirrel at this time of the year gathering all the things together nearing the end of summer…so sad…I always miss the tomatoes so much!

  3. Hmm…sounds delicious and certainly less fuss than a timballo! Not a big fan of most baked pasta dishes but this ones sounds so good I am going to have to make it!

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  7. qui purtroppo niente “dog days of summer”, questa pasta sarà presto nel mio forno ! Buon fine settimana Frank

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