Baked Rigatoni


Is anyone else freaking out that it’s already August? Where did July go? I don’t want school to start up again in a short three weeks! Why can’t time just stop and stay still? Reality shock aside, my grandparents are out of town and that finally give me a chance to make dinner! Most of the time, they make dinner for us so I tend to stay in the dessert zone. But after a while of eating Asian cuisine, I decided to go Italian with a Baked Rigatoni slathered in meat sauce and mozzarella.


To begin, boil a large pot of water. Once it boils, add in the rigatoni noodles and stir occasionally. The pasta is the one that takes longest to cook. While that is going, dice and mince the onion and garlic.


In a hot skillet, sauté with a pound of ground beef. I use the 80/20 meat to fat combination because I like the fatty juices that come out as I think it adds more flavor, but you can go with leaner meat if you prefer.


Add the jar of Prego Traditional tomato sauce and the dried herbs. Mix until all the meat is covered, then turn the heat down to low so the flavors can meld together. Allow it to simmer until the pasta noodles are done cooking.


As you are waiting, grate up the mozzarella cheese. You can use whichever kind you like, but I prefer the whole milk fresh mozzarella balls as it’s more bubbly when baking.


When the noodles are done,  strain then add as many as possible into the sauce. Fold until most is covered, then transfer into a baking dish. Add the rest of the noodles and gently fold until well covered.


Add the mozzarella cheese and don’t be shy! Gently fold in so that all the noodles get some lovin.


Finish it off by sprinkling the top with more mozzarella. Then, cover with tin foil and bake.


Twenty-five minutes later, you have a glorious pan of rigatoni. This can be scooped into smaller containers and then frozen for future meals or you can garnish with parsley and eat right away!


Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

serves 6

1 lb. box rigatoni

1 white onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground beef

1 jar Prego Traditional sauce

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 lb. whole milk mozzarella, shredded

rough chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)

In a large pot, boil water and cook the pasta.

In a large skillet lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil, sauté the diced onion and minced garlic over high heat. Add the ground beef and continue to cook until the beef is browned. Turn the heat down to low, add the jar of tomato sauce and dried herbs and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is finished cooking. Drain the pasta, then pour as much as possible into the large skillet. Fold the pasta in the sauce then transfer to a large baking dish. Fold in the rest of the noodles and continue to fold until completely covered. Add in the shredded cheese (reserve 1/4 c) and fold until it is evenly dispersed. Sprinkle the remaining cheese across the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.


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