1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 small onion, finely chopped
1¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
½ teaspooon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1½ pound (24 ounces) ground beef (preferably freshly ground)
14 ounces ditalini pasta, about 5 cups cooked
1 pound (16 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
3 cups marinara sauce, divided
Spray a deep dish pie pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, onion, ½ cup Parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper together until well blended. Add the eggs and ground beef and toss gently until ingredients are blended. Do not over mix. Form a crust about an inch thick with the meat mixture in the pie plate. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the ditalini pasta until just al dente. Do not overcook - the pasta needs to be slightly underdone because it will cook further in the oven. Drain the pasta.
In another large bowl, mix the cooked pasta with ¾ cup of the grated Parmigiano cheese, the mozzarella cheese and 2 cups of the marinara sauce. Mix well and then pour into the meat crust, forming a high dome with the pasta. Cover with nonstick foil.
Bake at 350 for 1½ hours, removing the foil the last 15 minutes to get the top a little crusty. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes before serving.
Slice into wedges and serve with the additional marinara sauce.