Orecchiette with Three Cheeses

This image courtesy of Michael Potts

This rich and comforting vegetarian dish is very satisfying and pairs well with a medium-bodied red wine and crusty bread. It makes a perfect Sunday lunch or a worknight dinner, because the tomato sauce can be prepared ahead of time.

4 servings

Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, savory, umami

Type of Dishbaked pasta, dry pasta, pasta


  • 2/3 package dried orecchiette (about 2 cups [473 mL])
  • 1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
  • ¾ cup (177 mL) fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup (118 mL) provolone cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup (118 mL) grated pecorino cheese, for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 (28-ounce [784-g]) canned whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar


  1. To Make the Tomato Sauce:

  2. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over low heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, continue to cook it for a couple of minutes, or until it starts to change color. Do not let the garlic become brown, as that means it is burnt and will taste bitter.

  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice and continue cooking at a slow simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. As the sauce starts to thicken, season with salt to taste and add the sugar (to balance the acidity of the tomatoes).

  4. To Make the Orecchiette:

  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

  6. In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts (3.8 L) of water. Salt the water generously, add the orecchiette, and cook to al dente, according to the package instructions.

  7. In a casserole dish, layer the orecchiette with the tomato sauce. Add the mozzarella cheese and provolone cheese and stir to combine.

  8. Sprinkle with the pecorino cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top forms a crust.


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