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"Anelletti are tiny rings of pasta and baked anelletti is the most popular dish of Palermo, Sicily," says Rach. "It's pretty to present and takes a while to make, but it's really easy, too. Pasta rings are easy to find and this dish is a Sunday night showstopper for the first chilly nights of early fall. It's a game changer for potlucks and it's the type of meal that inspires eaters-in-love to sign up with the cook for life so I call it Put a Ring On It Pasta Bake."
"This dish, because it's pasta rings, looks cool in the form of a bundt or round-form but any casserole or large cake pan or springform pan will work. Springform pans make it easier to unmold."
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for brushing or coating pan or OO spray for pan
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 2 small ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground beef (sirloin, 80-85% lean)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed or pollen
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup/glass red wine (Nero d'Avola)
- 1 ½ cups passata
- ½ cup fresh or defrosted frozen peas
- A handful of basil leaves, torn
- 1 pound anelletti
- ½ pound cooked ham, diced
- ½ pound caciocavallo or provola or mild provolone cheese, diced
Combine breadcrumbs with grated cheese and parsley.
Heat a pot of water to boil for pasta rings.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, add carrots, celery, onions, garlic and partially cover the pot. Sweat the vegetables 5 minutes, add beef and season with salt, pepper, fennel seed and red pepper flakes and brown lightly, crumble into fine pieces. Add a glass of red wine and let it absorb fully. Stir in passata and simmer at lowest heat 1 hour, then add peas and basil then simmer 10 minutes more. Remove from heat to cool to room temperature.
Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package directions in salted water, drain and cool, then add to sauce.
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Spray or brush a large bundt or springform pan liberally with EVOO or spray with non-aerosol OO spray, add breadcrumb mixture to coat liberally and gently press into place along sides and bottom, reserving extra crumb mixture.
Fill pan with half the pasta, then nest in diced ham and cheese, top with remaining pasta and top that with remaining breadcrumb mixture. Bake pasta 25 to 30 minutes mid-oven to golden and hot through. Let stand 10 minutes, then invert carefully on large cake stand or serving platter or cutting board.