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Baked Rigatoni

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Baked Rigatoni is an Italian comfort food classic that combines al dente pasta with a rich and flavorful tomato sauce, creamy cheese, and aromatic herbs. This dish is perfect for family gatherings or when you’re craving a warm and hearty meal. Let’s dive into creating this comforting masterpiece.

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Ingredients You’ll Need

For the Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce:

  • 16 oz (about 450g) rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound (about 450g) ground Italian sausage or ground beef
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Cheese Mixture:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For Topping:

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Rigatoni

  1. Cook the rigatoni pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions until it’s al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Sauce

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until they become soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the ground Italian sausage or beef and cook until it’s browned and cooked through.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Step 3: Make the Cheese Mixture

  1. In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, egg, salt, and black pepper.

Step 4: Assemble the Baked Rigatoni

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large baking dish, spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce.
  3. Add a layer of cooked rigatoni on top of the sauce.
  4. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the rigatoni.
  5. Add half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Repeat the layers with the remaining rigatoni, cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese.
  7. Top with any remaining tomato sauce.
  8. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

Step 5: Bake and Serve

  1. Bake the dish covered for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.
  2. Let it rest for a few minutes, garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired, and serve your Baked Rigatoni hot and bubbling.

This Baked Rigatoni recipe brings the comfort of Italian cuisine to your table. With its layers of pasta, rich tomato sauce, creamy cheese mixture, and a hint of herbs, it’s a perfect dish for a cozy family dinner. Whether you’re sharing it with loved ones or indulging in a hearty solo meal, this comforting classic will satisfy your cravings. Enjoy!

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