Discover the ultimate comfort food: Baked Occhi di Lupo! Dive into layers of savory goodness in this Italian masterpiece.
- Publisher: Lofty Recipes
- Cuisine: Italian
- Category: Main dish
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Servings: 6
- Calories: 350 calories
Baked Occhi di Lupo
About this recipe
Baked Occhi di Lupo, which translates to "Eye of the Wolf," is a delightful Italian pasta dish that's as intriguing as its name. Imagine pasta sheets that resemble little rounds or "eyes," a delectable pasta dish known for its unique presentation and delicious flavors!
You start with round pasta sheets, often similar to fresh or dried lasagna sheets, although these are smaller, round, and can resemble an eye.
The heart of this dish is a flavorful filling. In this recipe, it typically includes a mixture of ground meat (like beef or pork), sautéed onions, garlic, and a savory tomato sauce. This sauce is infused with herbs like basil and oregano, which give it that unmistakable Italian flair.
Cheeses play a key role. You've got ricotta cheese, which adds creaminess, and Parmesan cheese for a delightful savory kick. And, of course, there's gooey, melted mozzarella cheese on top that turns gloriously golden in the oven.
To make these "eyes," you lay out a pasta sheet, spread a thin layer of the ricotta-Parmesan mixture on it, add some of the meaty tomato sauce, then roll it up, like you would with a burrito or enchilada. This creates little pasta rolls, each with a flavorful filling inside.
The rolls are placed in a baking dish, covered with more of that rich meat sauce, and generously sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. It's like a cheesy pasta party in there! Then, into the oven it goes until it's hot, bubbly, and the cheese is perfectly golden brown.
Once it's out of the oven, you let it cool slightly, maybe garnish with some fresh basil leaves for a burst of color and aroma, and then it's ready to be served. The flavors have melded beautifully, and you've got this wonderful combination of tender pasta, savory meat, and creamy cheese in every bite.
Baked Occhi di Lupo is comfort food at its finest, comforting both your taste buds and your soul. It's a dish that's meant to be savored, ideally with family and friends around the table, enjoying the rich flavors and the warmth it brings to your dinner.
Baked Occhi di Lupo is a pasta dish that not only delights the palate but also captivates the eye with its unique round pasta sheets. It's a delightful representation of Italian cuisine, rich in flavor and perfect for a cozy family meal or special occasions.
Recipe origin and background
The origin of the Baked Occhi di Lupo recipe is deeply rooted in Italian cuisine, which is celebrated for its diverse and regional dishes. While there isn't a single definitive story behind its creation, we can trace its roots to the broader traditions of Italian pasta and stuffed pasta dishes.
Italy is renowned for its wide variety of pasta shapes and styles. Stuffed pasta dishes, such as ravioli, cannelloni, and manicotti, have been a part of Italian cuisine for centuries. The use of pasta sheets for rolling and stuffing with flavorful fillings is a common practice.
The name "Occhi di Lupo," meaning "Eye of the Wolf," is intriguing and might have historical or folklore associations. In Italian culinary traditions, names of dishes often carry cultural significance or symbolism.
Like many traditional dishes, recipes evolve over time, influenced by local ingredients, regional preferences, and personal creativity. Baked Occhi di Lupo may have undergone variations and adaptations in different regions of Italy.
Many Italian dishes have been passed down through generations within families, with each cook adding their own touch. The recipe for Baked Occhi di Lupo may have originated in a family kitchen, where it was perfected and cherished over time.
Why try this Baked Occhi di Lupo recipe?
Trying the Baked Occhi di Lupo recipe is a fantastic idea, and here are few reasons why you should give it a shot:
- Unique Presentation: Baked Occhi di Lupo stands out with its distinctive round pasta sheets, resembling little "eyes." It's visually captivating and adds an element of surprise to your meal.
- Delicious Flavor: The combination of tender pasta, savory meat sauce, creamy ricotta, and a cheesy topping creates a symphony of flavors in every bite. It's a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.
- Italian Comfort Food: Italian cuisine is celebrated for its comforting and hearty dishes, and Baked Occhi di Lupo is no exception. It's the kind of food that warms your soul and makes you feel right at home.
- Ideal for Gatherings: This recipe is perfect for family dinners, gatherings with friends, or special occasions. It's a crowd-pleaser that can easily be scaled up to feed a group.
- Creative Expression: If you enjoy cooking, making Baked Occhi di Lupo allows you to get creative with the filling and sauce. You can customize it to suit your personal taste, experimenting with different herbs and seasonings.
- Italian Heritage: By preparing and savoring this dish, you're connecting with the rich culinary traditions of Italy. It's a way to appreciate the diversity of Italian cuisine and its influence on the world.
- Leftovers Are Great: Like many baked pasta dishes, Baked Occhi di Lupo often tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to meld. So, it's an excellent option for meal prep.
- Impress Your Guests: If you're looking to impress dinner guests or want to cook something special for a date night, this dish's unique appearance and deliciousness will surely do the trick.
- Cooking Experience: It's a fun and engaging recipe to try in the kitchen. The assembly of the pasta rolls can be a great culinary project for you to enjoy.
- A Taste of Italy: Even if you can't travel to Italy, preparing and savoring Baked Occhi di Lupo is like taking a culinary journey to Italy from the comfort of your own home.
Baked Occhi di Lupo is a delightful Italian dish that offers a unique culinary experience, both in terms of its appearance and flavor. It's a dish that brings people together, warms the heart, and allows you to explore the rich tapestry of Italian cuisine. Give it a try, and you might discover a new favorite meal!
What does Baked Occhi di Lupo taste like?
The taste of Baked Occhi di Lupo is a delightful combination of savory, cheesy, and comforting flavors. Here's what you can expect:
- Savory Meatiness: The meat filling, often made with ground beef or pork, is seasoned with herbs like basil and oregano. It adds a rich, savory depth to the dish, reminiscent of a well-seasoned Italian meat sauce.
- Creamy Ricotta: The ricotta cheese filling is creamy and slightly tangy. It provides a contrast to the savory meat and adds a luxurious texture to each pasta roll.
- Parmesan Zing: Grated Parmesan cheese is used, which contributes a salty and slightly nutty flavor. It enhances the overall savory profile of the dish.
- Melted Mozzarella: The melted mozzarella cheese on top becomes gooey and golden brown during baking. It adds a wonderful stretchy, cheesy texture and a mild, milky flavor that complements the other components.
- Tomato Tang: The tomato sauce, made from crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, provides a tangy and slightly sweet undertone to balance the richness of the meat and cheese.
- Herbal Notes: The dried basil and oregano in the sauce infuse the dish with aromatic herbal notes, contributing to the classic Italian flavor profile.
- Pasta Perfection: The pasta itself is tender, providing a neutral canvas for all the flavors to shine. Its delicate texture absorbs the surrounding sauce and cheese, making each bite a harmonious blend.
The taste of Baked Occhi di Lupo is a harmonious marriage of savory meat, creamy cheese, and tomato goodness, all enveloped in perfectly cooked pasta. It's a comfort food that's both satisfying and inviting, making it a favorite for many who appreciate Italian cuisine.
What is in Baked Occhi di Lupo?
- Round Pasta Sheets (Occhi di Lupo): These are the star of the dish, and they are round pasta sheets that resemble little "eyes." They serve as the base for your stuffed pasta rolls.
- Ground Meat (Beef or Pork): Ground meat, such as beef or pork, is used to create a flavorful and savory meat filling. It adds richness and a hearty taste to the dish.
- Onion and Garlic: These aromatics are sautéed to create the flavor base for your meat sauce. They provide a savory and aromatic foundation to the dish.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes are the primary component of the tomato sauce. They bring a rich, tomatoey flavor to the sauce.
- Tomato Sauce: Tomato sauce is combined with crushed tomatoes to create a well-balanced and flavorful base for your meat sauce.
- Ricotta Cheese: Ricotta cheese is used to make the filling creamy and slightly tangy. It adds a delightful texture and flavor to the pasta rolls.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese is a savory ingredient that enhances the meat sauce's depth of flavor. It provides a salty and nutty taste.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Shredded mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on top of the dish before baking. It becomes gooey and golden brown, adding a cheesy and melty element.
- Dried Basil and Oregano: These dried herbs are used to season the meat sauce, infusing it with aromatic herbal notes that are typical of Italian cuisine.
- Salt and Pepper: These seasonings are used to taste, adding the right balance of saltiness and spiciness to the dish.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is used for sautéing the onions and garlic and greasing the baking dish, adding a subtle fruity note to the dish.
- Fresh Basil Leaves (Optional): Fresh basil leaves can be used as a garnish for a burst of fresh flavor and aroma when serving.
Equipment required for this recipe
- Baking Dish: A rectangular or square baking dish (approximately 9x13 inches) is ideal for baking the pasta rolls. Substitute: You can use a similar-sized ovenproof casserole dish or even a deep roasting pan.
- Large Skillet: A large skillet or frying pan is needed to sauté the onions, garlic, and ground meat. Substitute: A wide saucepan or a deep frying pan can work as a substitute.
- Pot for Boiling Pasta: A large pot for boiling the pasta sheets until they're al dente. Substitute: Any large pot suitable for cooking pasta will do.
- Mixing Bowls: You'll need mixing bowls for combining ingredients like the ricotta cheese mixture. Substitute: Any type of bowl, including glass or stainless steel, can be used.
- Cooking Utensils: A wooden spoon or spatula for stirring the meat sauce and a ladle for adding sauce to the pasta rolls. Substitute: Any suitable utensils for stirring and serving, such as silicone spatulas or metal spoons.
- Oven: An oven for baking the assembled pasta dish. Substitute: There is no direct substitute for an oven when it comes to baking, so an oven is essential for this recipe.
- Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is used to cover the baking dish while baking to prevent excessive browning. Substitute: If you don't have foil, you can use an ovenproof lid or another oven-safe cover for your baking dish.
- Knife and Cutting Board: A knife for chopping onions and a cutting board for food preparation. Substitute: Any sharp knife and a clean, flat surface can be used for chopping and preparing ingredients.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Measuring cups and spoons for accurately measuring ingredients. Substitute: If you don't have measuring cups and spoons, you can estimate quantities using regular kitchen utensils or weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale.
- Olive Oil Brush (Optional): A brush for greasing the baking dish with olive oil. Substitute: You can use a paper towel or your fingers to evenly spread olive oil in the dish.
- Fresh Basil Leaves for Garnish (Optional): Fresh basil leaves for garnishing the finished dish. Substitute: You can omit the garnish or use other fresh herbs like parsley or chives if desired.
How to make Baked Occhi di Lupo
Indulge in a delightful Baked Occhi di Lupo recipe - a symphony of flavors in every bite. Perfect Italian comfort food for your table!
- 12-16 round pasta sheets (you can use fresh or dried lasagna sheets)
- 1 pound of ground beef or pork
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for greasing the baking dish
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until they become translucent.
- Add the ground meat and cook until it's browned and cooked through. Break it up with a spoon as it cooks.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets according to the package instructions until they're al dente. Drain and set them aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Take one pasta sheet and spread a thin layer of the ricotta and Parmesan mixture on it. Then, spoon some of the meat sauce onto the pasta sheet.
- Roll up the pasta sheet, similar to a cannelloni or enchilada, and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining pasta sheets.
- Once all the pasta sheets are filled and arranged in the baking dish, pour the remaining meat sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of the dish.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
- Let it cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.
How to serve Baked Occhi di Lupo
Serving Baked Occhi di Lupo is a delightful experience, and here are the steps to serve this delicious Italian dish:
- Cool Slightly: After removing the baked pasta dish from the oven, allow it to cool slightly for a few minutes. This helps the flavors to settle and makes it easier to handle.
- Garnish (Optional): If you have fresh basil leaves or another herb on hand, you can garnish the dish for a pop of color and added aroma. Simply scatter some fresh basil leaves over the top.
- Portion: Use a sharp knife or a spatula to carefully portion out individual servings. Each serving typically consists of one or more pasta rolls, depending on portion size.
- Plate: Transfer the portions to individual plates or a serving platter, depending on your presentation preference.
- Spoon Extra Sauce: If there's any remaining meat sauce in the baking dish, spoon a bit over each serving. This extra sauce adds flavor and moisture to the dish.
- Enjoy: Baked Occhi di Lupo is best enjoyed hot and straight from the oven. The cheese should be wonderfully melted, and the flavors should be rich and savory. Serve it alongside a fresh green salad or some crusty Italian bread for a complete meal.
- Pair with Wine (Optional): If you're a wine enthusiast, consider pairing this dish with a nice Italian red wine, such as Chianti or Sangiovese. The wine can complement the savory flavors of the meal.
Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 468 reviews.
Recipe Tags: Baked Occhi di Lupo, Baked Occhi di Lupo Recipe, Recipe, Easy, Homemade, Top rated
What to serve Baked Occhi di Lupo with
Baked Occhi di Lupo is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes to create a well-rounded meal. Here are some options for what you can serve alongside this delicious Italian pasta dish:
- Green Salad: A fresh green salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing is a classic choice. It provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of the pasta and adds some crisp, healthy greens to your meal.
- Garlic Bread: Garlic bread or a warm baguette is a fantastic option. The garlic-infused bread complements the flavors of the pasta, and you can use it to scoop up any extra sauce.
- Steamed or Roasted Vegetables: Serve Baked Occhi di Lupo with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables. Options like broccoli, asparagus, or green beans work well. They add color, nutrition, and a different texture to the meal.
- Antipasto Platter: Create an Italian-inspired antipasto platter with cured meats, cheeses, olives, and marinated vegetables. It's a great way to start your meal with a variety of flavors and textures.
- Caprese Salad: A Caprese salad made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze is a delightful and light side dish that complements the Italian theme.
- Minestrone Soup: If you prefer a heartier accompaniment, a bowl of minestrone soup is an excellent choice. It's a classic Italian vegetable soup that pairs nicely with pasta.
- Roasted Potatoes: Roasted potatoes seasoned with herbs like rosemary and thyme can be a satisfying side dish that complements the pasta's flavors.
- Fruit Salad: A refreshing fruit salad, perhaps with a touch of mint and a squeeze of citrus, offers a sweet and tangy contrast to the savory pasta.
- Bruschetta: Serve bruschetta as an appetizer or side dish. It's made with toasted bread topped with diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
- Wine: If you enjoy wine, consider serving a nice Italian wine, such as Chianti or Pinot Grigio, alongside your meal. The wine can enhance the overall dining experience.
My recommendations and tips
- Choose Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients, especially when it comes to the meat, cheeses, and canned tomatoes. Fresh and flavorful ingredients will elevate the final dish.
- Customize the Filling: Feel free to get creative with the filling. You can add ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or even a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat, depending on your taste preferences.
- Don't Overcook Pasta: When boiling the pasta sheets, be mindful not to overcook them. They should be cooked until they are al dente (firm to the bite) since they will continue cooking in the oven.
- Evenly Spread Filling: When spreading the ricotta and meat sauce on the pasta sheets, try to distribute the filling evenly to ensure consistent flavor in each bite.
- Sauce Consistency: Simmer the tomato sauce until it thickens slightly. A thicker sauce will prevent your pasta rolls from becoming too soggy during baking.
- Prevent Sticking: Grease the baking dish well to prevent the pasta rolls from sticking. You can use olive oil or cooking spray for this.
- Cover While Baking: Covering the baking dish with aluminum foil during the initial baking period helps prevent excessive browning and ensures that the pasta cooks evenly.
- Uncover for a Crispy Top: Remove the foil during the last part of baking to allow the mozzarella cheese to become golden and slightly crispy on top.
- Rest Before Serving: Let the dish rest for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. This allows the flavors to meld and makes it easier to handle when serving.
- Garnish Thoughtfully: If you choose to garnish with fresh basil or another herb, do so just before serving to maintain the herbs' freshness and vibrant color.
- Pair with Complementary Sides: As mentioned earlier, consider serving the dish with sides that complement its flavors and textures.
- Enjoy Leftovers: Baked Occhi di Lupo often tastes even better the next day, so don't hesitate to enjoy the leftovers.
Potential ingredients substitutes
- Meat Substitute: Instead of ground beef or pork, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or plant-based ground meat for a vegetarian or vegan version.
- Ricotta Cheese Substitute: For a dairy-free alternative, use tofu ricotta made from blended silken tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Alternatively, you can use dairy-free store-bought ricotta alternatives made from almonds, cashews, or soy.
- Parmesan Cheese Substitute: Vegan Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast can replace traditional Parmesan cheese for a dairy-free option.
- Mozzarella Cheese Substitute: Vegan mozzarella cheese made from ingredients like cashews or soy can be used to maintain a dairy-free or vegan diet.
- Pasta Sheets: If you can't find round pasta sheets specifically labeled as "Occhi di Lupo," you can use square or rectangular lasagna sheets and cut them into circles using a round cutter or a knife.
- Tomato Sauce Substitute: Instead of canned tomato sauce, you can use homemade tomato sauce or passata. Be sure to season it with herbs and spices for flavor.
- Fresh Herbs: If you don't have dried basil and oregano, you can use fresh basil and oregano leaves. Keep in mind that fresh herbs have a milder flavor, so you may need to use a larger quantity.
- Gluten-Free Pasta: If you need a gluten-free option, choose gluten-free lasagna sheets or pasta sheets to make this dish.
- Vegetable Filling: You can get creative with vegetable fillings. Consider sautéed spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, or roasted red peppers as alternatives or additions to the meat filling.
- Sauce Base: If you prefer a different sauce base, you can use a creamy Alfredo sauce, pesto, or a mushroom-based sauce instead of tomato sauce.
- Herb Seasonings: Feel free to experiment with other herbs and seasonings that you enjoy, such as thyme, rosemary, or red pepper flakes, to customize the flavor to your liking.
- Olive Oil: Any cooking oil or oil substitute suitable for sautéing can replace olive oil if needed.
In conclusion, Baked Occhi di Lupo is not just a meal; it's an experience. With its unique presentation and rich flavors, it's a testament to the artistry of Italian cuisine. Whether enjoyed with family or served on special occasions, this dish captures the heart and palate, reminding us of the joy in sharing food with loved ones. So, roll up your sleeves, embrace the culinary adventure, and savor the delicious journey of Baked Occhi di Lupo. Buon appetito!