Neapolitan Tagliolini Pasta Pie (Crostata)
Baked pasta comes in many forms here in Italy, especially in the Southern regions. This wonderful looking Neapolitan tagliolini pasta pie is pretty easy to make. It’s also a tasty alternative way to serve tagliolini or tagliatelle.
Crostata di Tagliolini
When you think about baked pasta, what comes to mind? For most people baked pasta usually means baked pasta tubes like rigatoni or tortiglioni al forno or lasagna al forno. Traditionally both are made with a meat ragu, white béchamel sauce and lots of cheese! However, there are vegetarian versions too.
These dishes are the ultimate in comfort food and much loved in Italy and abroad. But actually, Italians bake pasta in so many different ways. Some, like this tagliolini pasta pie, are quite easy to make. Others are very complicated and require a lot of stages of preparation.
Crostata and Timballo
Pasta pies are especially popular in the south of Italy, where they are often eaten on feast days and holidays. There are 2 main types of pasta pies, ‘crostata’ and ‘timballo’. Of course, each of these has many versions depending on local culinary traditions and ingredients.
Pasta crostata, like this tagliolini pasta pie, are open pies made with or without a pastry base. Italians also use crostata to refer to open fruit pies or tarts made with chunks of fruit. In timballo, the pasta, sauce and other ingredients are usually encased in pastry or breadcrumbs or wrapped in a vegetable, usually eggplant. Take a look at my recipe and post for parmigiana timballo and read about the history of timballo recipes in Italy.
Crostata or timballo made with pastry (usually puff pastry or shortcrust) can be pretty complicated to make. These are more likely to be served on holidays and are particularly traditional at Easter. I guess one of the most famous versions of a timballo pasta pie is the ‘timpano’ (Neapolitan dialect for timballo) from the 1996 film Big Night. Have you seen it?
Different versions of tagliolini pasta pie
This tagliolini pasta pie recipe comes from Campania and like other similar recipes has many versions. It can be made with béchamel or tomato sauce. Some people also add eggs or a meat ragu. I would say this is one of the simplest tagliolini pasta pie recipes. However, it looks beautiful, tastes great and isn’t so time-consuming!
Making this pasta pie
I used a cake ring tin but you can also use a normal spring form cake tin. This pasta pie doesn’t actually need to be turned out so you can also just cut slices from it whilst it’s still in the tin or baking dish. Using a ring cake tin meant I had to turn it twice to get the crispy part on top. This is a bit risky! But, I felt the finished version looked so nice, it was worth it!
The secret is to let the tagliolini pasta pie stand for about 20 minutes before turning it out. This also allows time for the cheese to solidify slightly so you don’t get stringy mozzarella and it helps hold the pie together. These pasta pies are usually eaten tepid rather than very hot. However, you can stick the pie back in the oven for 5 minutes after slicing it, if you prefer to eat it hotter.
The next pasta crostata recipe I want to make is one with pastry! In the meantime I do hope you’ll give this one a try. I’m sure you’ll love it! And, if you make this tagliolini pasta pie recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
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Neapolitan Tagliolini Pasta Pie
- 320 g tagliolini egg pasta I used Giovanni Rana. You can also use tagliatelle (13oz)
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 300 g peas fresh or frozen (10 oz)
- 200 g mozzarella about 2 large balls (7oz)
- 120 g Parmesan cheese grated (4.5oz)
- 150 g cooked ham about 3 thick slices (3.5oz)
- 100 g pancetta cubes or lardons (3.5 oz)
- 50 g breadcrumbs (2oz)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- butter as required
- salt for pasta and to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Drain and slice the mozzarella. Cut the cooked ham into cubes. Peel and finely chop the onion. Cut the pancetta into cubes if needed
Make the sauce
- Sauté the chopped onion with a knob of butter and a tbsp of olive oil until it starts to soften slightly. Add the pancetta. Cook for another minute or 2 then add the frozen peas and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Add a ladle of water to stop it drying out. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta
- Boil a pot of water for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta very al dente according to the instructions on the packet (fresh tagliolini only needs about 2 minutes!). Drain the pasta. Return it to the pan or put it in a bowl.
- Add one third of the Parmesan, the cooked ham and another knob of butter and mix well to coat the pasta with butter and cheese
Add the pasta and ham to the peas and pancetta and mix well again.
Finish your pasta pie
- Grease a cake tin or baking dish with butter. Form a thick layer of the tagliolini mixture. Sprinkle it with more Parmesan. Then cover with a layer of mozzarella and some breadcrumbs. Add the remaining pasta, another sprinkling of Parmesan, more mozzarella slices and finally cover with the remaining breadcrumbs and some butter flakes.
- Bake the pasta in a preheated oven at 200 ° C for 25 minutes. When the tagliolini pasta pie is ready it should be nice and crispy on top. Let it stand for ten minutes and then serve.
- N.B. If you want to turn the pasta pie out onto a serving dish you may need to let it sit for longer (about 20 minutes) The pie will need to be turned twice to get the crispy part on top. First time it will be upside down. Place another serving dish on top and turn again.
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