Baked rigatoni Recipe is a kind of pasta covered with tomato paste and loaded with creamy cheese, which gives every bite a punch of flavor. The mild mozzarella cheese balances the natural tart flavor of tomatoes. This beautiful combination, often used in Italian food, can’t help but tantalize your tastebuds. Oh and did we mention that you can replace beef in this recipe with other meats if you prefer? Pork, lamb, chicken, you name it. But trust us, rigatoni is delicious in any way it’s made.
What Is Rigatoni?
The name rigatoni comes from the Italian word “rigato”, which means “ridged” or “lined”. Rigatoni became famous thanks to its tube-like shape, and has been a representation of southern Italian cuisine since.
In terms of sauces to go with it, Rigatoni is perfect for the chunky kinds since their tube shape can hold a good amount of sauce. Thanks to this unique shape, rigatoni can also scoop up cheese nicely, making it perfect in oven-baked pasta dishes.
When you wander around your local store, chances are you will find most of the pasta available in plain flour. If you want a more nutritious version, we suggest that you look for those made from durum, wholewheat, buckwheat, or einkorn. These kinds of pasta provide a similar textural experience but offer higher fiber content.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
While doing research for rigatoni recipes, we found out that most of the recipes online are unhealthy. They are either incredibly high in fat or seasoned with a lot of salt. Naturally the question “how about we make our own healthy rigatoni recipe?” popped into our heads.
In this recipe, a healthier version is achieved by altering the amounts of ingredients and the cooking processes to develop a healthier version. We use unsalted tomato paste to keep the sodium amount below 400 mg, which is relatively healthy for a single meal. Baking the beef with onion instead of stir-frying them (yes, some recipes do that) restricts the amount of oil while still preserving the moistness and goodness. There’s no exaggeration when we say this rigatoni recipe is delicious and healthy!
If you are on a special diet but still craving baked rigatoni, here are a few suggestions:
- Low carb: most commercial rigatoni nowadays is wheat-based but there are some low-carb kinds of pasta available you can use.
- Vegan: simply cut beef out of the recipe and use dairy-free cheese such as tofu ricotta instead. This kind of cheese is loaded with a huge amount of protein and adds creaminess to the dish.
Tips to Boil Rigatoni Noodles
Some may think cooking pasta is easy since the formula is simple: boil the water, put the pasta in. However, how to boil an al dente rigatoni is a different story. Not to worry, these following tips should help you to have perfectly boiled rigatoni.
Cook rigatoni until al dente to prevent mushiness after it’s cooked in the oven. We suggest testing rigatoni 2-3 minutes earlier than the cooking time on the pasta’s package.
Use enough water to cook faster. A standard 16 oz box of pasta can be cooked well in two quarts of water.
Stir occasionally during the boiling time to separate the pasta pieces.
Drain pasta well and then drizzle cooked pasta with a little olive oil, so they don’t clump or stick together.
How to Freeze Baked Rigatoni
For many people, fresh-baked rigatoni has the best flavor and texture. However, when you need a quick dinner, reheating cooked pasta is a great go-to. Here are a few steps for you when storing rigatoni.
- Keep the rigatoni pasta and sauce separately. Use either zip-top bags or containers to store rigatoni, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator (up to 3 months in the freezer). For the sauce, you can also freeze and use it within 3 months.
- When ready to eat, heat the sauce, and put the frozen rigatoni noodles directly into the boiling sauce to reheat them. Then bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
How To Make Baked Rigatoni Recipe
- 8 oz lean beef
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp tapioca starch
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 8 oz rigatoni pasta
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1.5 cup Hunt’s tomato paste no salt added
- 2 cup mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 285 °F.
- Cut beef into cubes and season with olive oil and tapioca starch. Roast in the oven at 285 °F for 90 minutes.
- In a large pan, pour olive oil. Then add minced garlic and chopped onion, stir and cook over medium heat. Season with black pepper and salt.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil over medium heat. Add rigatoni. Cook until al dente and drain rigatoni pasta.
- Spread onion over the baking dish, then add the beef and rigatoni. Spread 2 cups of tomato paste over the top.
- Cover with a piece of foil and bake at 350 °F for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella and bake 10 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.