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This recipe for easy baked rigatoni with Italian sausage and ricotta cheese makes a great big pan full of scrumptious Italian comfort food. And if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, my family and I agree that it tastes even better the next day!
But is it hard to make?
Baked Rigatoni Has Several Steps, But Each Step is Easy
Can you make this if you’re not a “confident cook”? Absolutely! I’d even recommend this recipe to a beginning cook. You get so much “bang” for your effort!
I found and adapted this recipe from Alison Roman’s Baked Ziti.
1. Brown Some Italian Sausage:
After you’ve browned it, drain it briefly on a paper towel. You’ll need it to add to the sauce, while it’s simmering.
Break up the sausage as you brown it. Then drain it. Finally, combine it with the tomato sauce.
2. Make the Sauce:
Here’s how to make the sauce. You sauté the onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped garlic and sauté for another minute. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and add in some tomato paste.
Add in some tomatoes. Use a potato masher to squish them up. Add in some red pepper flakes, and the browned Italian Sausage. Let it all simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. Make the Ricotta Mixture:
Combine ricotta, cream and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk that up.
3. Make the Rigatoni:
Put on a pot of pasta to cook. Cook it a couple of minutes just shy of al dente, because your pasta will finish its cook time in the oven, whilst sucking up hot tomato sauce! I used rigatoni, but you could use ziti, or penne. Any kind of medium sized pasta you have on hand. Drain it, and then sauce it up with 2 c. of sauce.
4. Assemble the Whole Shebang:
Start with spooning a layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Add 1/3 of the pasta, and top that with 1/3 of the remaining sauce.
Top with half the ricotta mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.
Add another 1/3 of the pasta. Top with the second third of the sauce.
Top with the other half of the Ricotta Mixture and another third of the Mozzarella.
Top with the final third of the pasta, the last of the sauce, and top with the rest of the mozzarella, and about a 1/4 c. of grated Parm.
This recipe would offer a great opportunity to utilize my recipe for homemade ricotta, made in a sous vide: How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese.
5. Put It In The Oven For Baby And Me
After that, put it in your local hot box for about 45 minutes. Dinner + Leftovers (if you’re lucky!)
Truly, the leftovers are even better! But you’ll be hard pressed to keep any.
Several steps, yes. But each step is easy!
Now, here’s the recipe, with amounts, temperatures, and cooking times.
- 1 lb. Sweet or Mild Italian Sausage
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 2 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
- 16 oz. ricotta
- 1/2 c. cream
- 3/4 c. Parmagiano Reggiano
- 1 lb. rigatoni, or other short, tubelike pasta
- 1 lb. grated mozzarella
- To Make the Tomato Sauce: Brown and use your spatula to crumble the Italian sausage in a large skillet. Drain on a plate covered by a couple of paper towels.
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, and sauté onions, cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook about 1 minute more. Add tomato paste, and continue to cook about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, and crush with a potato masher. Stir to scrape any browned bit off the bottom of the pot. Ad 1/2 t. red pepper flakes, and taste for seasoning, adding more if needed. Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened: about 30 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, put on a big pot of water to cook the pasta in, add plenty of salt (about a tablespoon), and cook the pasta 2 MINUTES LESS than box directions. You'll also want to preheat your oven to 350º.
- While pasta is cooking and sauce is simmering, stir together the ricotta mixture in a medium size bowl. Combine ricotta, cream, and 1/2 c. of the Parmesan cheese. Season with a pinch of sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
- Drain the pasta, and pour it back in the big pasta pot. Add 2 cups of the pasta sauce, and stir.
- Spoon a layer of sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9" pan. Top it with 1/3 of the pasta. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining sauce on top. Top with half of the ricotta mixture, and scatter 1/3 of the mozzarella around. Repeat, beginning with pasta, another 1/3 of the sauce, the other half of the ricotta mixture, and another third of the mozzarella. Finish with the last of the pasta, the last of the sauce, the last of the mozzarella, and a remaining 1/4 c. of grated Parmesan.
- Place in the oven on a baking sheet, and and bake until the top is nicely browned, about 30 - 40 minutes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 502Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 693mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 26g