Attempting A Pastizza

I made this dish because of a reader’s comments on my Review of Rachel Ray’s book, “Just in Time.” (Hi Natalie!) It was one of the recipes in the book that really stood out for me so I thought I would try a version of it. The idea of the dish is to take pasta, coat it in some flavorful oil, make a crust out of it and fill it with cheese. Then you bake it and eat it like pizza.

I ended up with this baked dish:

When I pulled this out of the oven I was really hopeful. The cheese was melted beautifully, the pasta was perfectly baked, and I could see lots of spice and flavors poking out. I cut two big slices for me and Betsy and we sat down and had our first bite. After that bite, we both looked at each other…

Waawaaa.

That’s the sound of disappointment. The dish just didn’t quite do it for me. I want to go through the process I used though and if anyone has any tips or notices any errors, I’m all ears.

Before I give my recipe though, I should note a few things I changed from the original which possibly led to disaster:

– I didn’t use pancetta. I can see how this could lend some needed flavor.
– I used whole wheat pasta instead of normal. I don’t think that hurt it.
– I didn’t use red pepper flakes.
– I added to the dish a whole red pepper for flavor and sun-dried tomatoes mixed in with the ricotta.

Pastizza

Just a moment please...

Yield
Serves 8.
Prep Time
Total Time

I try (and mostly fail) at making a pizza and pasta combo called the Pastizza.

Ingredients

16 ounces linguine (undercooked slightly.)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic
1 red pepper, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup cream (you could probably use milk if you are watching that waistline)
2 cups ricotta
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and Pepper
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Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Also get a large pot of salted water simmering and chop all the ingredients.

2) Cook pastas according to package and sautee peppers and garlic for a few minutes in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.

3) Add pasta to pan with veggies. If it’s dry, add a drizzle of oil.

4) In a bowl, whisk together your eggs and cream and then pour that mixture into this pan. Stir quickly to combine. I tried to kind of burrow out the center to resemble a “crust” on a pizza. Then into the oven for 5 minutes.

5) Then put on a layer of all your ricotta, sprinkle your mozzarella and parm on top and hit it with plenty of pepper and, salt and any extra parsley you have.

6) Bake this for 10-12 minutes and you will be all set. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it or your ricotta will just run all over the place. Slice and serve.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray Just in Time.

Ok. I started by preheating my oven to 425, putting a large pot of salted water on to boil, and prepping all of my ingredients. I mixed my ricotta with half of the chopped parsley and the sun-dried tomatoes and grated my cheese.

Lots of cheese.

Lots of cheese.

So these are the basics of the dish:

Ready to get started.

Ready to get started.

Then I got out my trusty skillet and sautéed the peppers and garlic in the olive oil.

Peppers and garlic getting happy.

Peppers and garlic getting happy.

When they were about done, I tossed in all of my pasta and cooked it in the water for 3-5 minutes. Rachel says three minutes exactly, but I found I needed to give mine another minute. You want the pasta flexible but still with some bite to it. Definitely undercooked. It will finish cooking in the oven.

Then toss all of your pasta in the pan and stir it well to combine with the veggies and oil.

Get your pasta mixed with the oils.

Get your pasta mixed with the oils.

In a bowl, whisk together your eggs and cream and then pour that mixture into this pan. Stir quickly to combine. I tried to kind of burrow out the center to resemble a “crust” on a pizza. Then into the oven for 5 minutes. No more. No less. You’ll pull out something similar to this:

I think this is looking pretty good.

I think this is looking pretty good.

Then put on a layer of all your ricotta, sprinkle your mozzarella and parm on top and hit it with plenty of pepper and, salt and any extra parsley you have.

Adding your cheese and other cheese.

Adding your cheese and other cheese.

Bake this for 10-12 minutes and you will be all set. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it or your ricotta will just run all over the place. You’ll end up with slices like this:

A slice of... something.

A slice of… something.

I’m not sure if it was my changes to the recipe or that it just wasn’t to my liking, but this was definitely not my favorite dish.

Ultimately, I think this was my problem with it: It was more work than either pasta or pizza and I would rather eat either of them apart then try to combine them in some weird amalgam dish.

I’m sure that there are tons of people that love this dish and if any of those people want to comment and give me some pointers, I’m all ears, but I’m just not sure that this dish delivered.

8 comments on “Attempting A Pastizza

  1. No you didn’t do it right!

    1st of all- the bacon is important- no I don’t use pancetta either- but I always use bacon. It is crucial to the flavor.

    2nd of all- the crushed red pepper is even more important- it is what gives the whole thing a pizza-vibe- and packs much needed spicy flavor. I usually use more than the recipe even calls for.Why would you leave that out? What were you thinking?!

    3rd- I like whole wheat pasta, and use it regulary- but I’ve never used it for this. That being the case, I can’t say whether or not that affected your dud pizza, but I’m sure combined with your first two mistakes, whole wheat probably wasn’t helping this big bland par-tay.

    More suggestions-

    I usually also add some diced onion in with the garlic- I don’t think that’s in the original recipe, but I do it anyway cause onions are good.

    I do believe you are using a pan that is too big- Mine always comes out much thicker than yours, and the egg/cream mixture should cover up more of the pasta than yours did.

    SALT- eggs need it, pasta needs it, ricotta needs it, – did you use enough? Probably not. Also, if you’d thrown some bacon or pancetta in there, that would have added possibly enough to make a difference, but you would’ve still needed more SALT.

    I’ve used mozzerella on top as called for, but prefer a tastier white cheese, and have had great results with provolone, and fontina- or you could simply add more parm.

    I do like the addition of red peppers though- good call.

    In closing- I also deviate from recipes, swapping where I feel neccesary- but in this case, deviation caused you to end up with a great big plate of FAIL. Don’t blame RR- even though I doubt you would. Your too macheesmo to do that.

    I won’t demand that you try again and post it- I know it would be repetitive and maybe boring to post all that again- but I think you should try again at some point, because it is delicious AND just so you can say, “Yes, Natalie was right. This is the bomb.”

    PS- your pesto grilled cheeses are also the BOMB. thanks for that-

  2. I make this kind of thing all the time, sort of, although I call it a frittata. In fact, I made it yesterday. I’m going to blog about it later today, but the basics are:

    – Put the leftover pasta, with whatever sauce, in a bowl
    – Add beaten eggs and shredded cheese
    – If you’re me, add crumbled bacon (to everything)
    – Heat an ovenproof skillet on the stove
    – Add olive oil and pour in pasta mixture
    – Cook until set on bottom
    – Put under broiler 4-5 minutes

    That’s it! This is, in my opinion, the highest and best use for leftover pasta.

  3. @Natalie: Thanks for the tips! I didn’t include bacon/red pepper because I was out and didn’t feel like going to the store. When I retry I’ll be sure to have them on hand.

    @Erika: I think you hit it on the head. This is a good use for LEFTOVER pasta. Next time I have some one hand, I will be trying this again. I felt weird making fresh pasta and then using it for this dish though.

  4. Hmmmm…never heard of this. I may have to give it a try with left over pasta, although I pretty good at having just enough pasta and just enough sauce left over for one lunch.

  5. i’ve been wanting to make this for a long time now, thanks for being so honest w/ your mistakes/outcomes. and dude, what’s in the cup. please tell me you werent drinking OJ w/ the pasta-pizza.

  6. Haha. Thanks Gansie. I wish I could say it was spiked heavily with vodka, but it’s just the pure orange stuff.

    I’ve been sick for the entirety of 2009, so out with the beer and in with the oj.

  7. My roommate and I have made several different variations of this in the past. He swears by it, I find it to be bland and texturally boring.

    I think it's really difficult to find balance and contrast in this dish, just saying.

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