Pasta al forno alla siciliana 

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1. Preheat the oven 

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) to ensure it's hot and ready when you need to bake the pasta. 

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2. Cook the pasta 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta according to package instructions until it's al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside. 

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3. Prepare the sauce 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced onions, and sauté until they become soft and fragrant. Then add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and your choice of herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes until it thickens slightly. 

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4. Add vegetables and protein  

Sicilian pasta dishes often include vegetables and protein. Consider adding sliced eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, or mushrooms to the sauce. You can also add cooked ground meat like beef or sausage if desired. Cook the vegetables and protein until they are tender and fully cooked. 

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5. Combine pasta and sauce 

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce and mix everything together until the pasta is well coated with the sauce and the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

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6. Prepare the baking dish 

Grease a large baking dish with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray to prevent the pasta from sticking. Transfer the pasta and sauce mixture into the baking dish, spreading it out evenly. 

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7. Top with cheese 

Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese and/or mozzarella cheese over the top of the pasta in the baking dish. The cheese will create a delicious golden crust as it bakes. 

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8. Bake 

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the top of the pasta is golden brown. Keep an eye on it towards the end to prevent burning. 

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