Pair meatballs with rigatoni for a quick meal - Times News Online

Pair meatballs with rigatoni for a quick meal – Times News Online

Posted on January 12, 2022 12:15 PM

Would you like to make an easy and comforting casserole dish any time of the year, but especially in winter? This pasta bake is a nice change from baked spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna or ziti.

Fresh homemade miniature meatballs are a pleasant surprise in this baked rigatoni recipe.

You can use store-bought pasta sauce or make your own quickly. The day before serving this dish, you can make your sauce, roll up the meatballs and keep them cool and even prepare your pasta.

Making gravy the night before or on the weekend makes this recipe super friendly for a busy weekday meal.

Served with a side of greens or a garden salad, rolls or your favorite crispy bread and butter and you have a complete meal.

Baked Rigatoni with Mini Meatballs is a family dinner.

Baked rigatoni with mini meatballs

Meatballs ingredients

1 pound of 80/20 ground beef

1 large egg at room temperature

cup of breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients for your meatballs together. Roll your meatballs into penny-sized rings. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

When your sauce has cooked for 30 minutes, drop your meatballs in the sauce. Stir the pan very gently to immerse the meatballs. Cover them for 10-15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Tomato sauce

1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (hand crushed)

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 large sweet white onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

½ teaspoon of dried oregano

1-2 fresh basil springs, torn by hand

Pinch of chili flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large saucepan and over medium heat, add your olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft. Add your tomato puree, oregano and chili flakes. Sauté 2-3 minutes.

Gently pour in your hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes and your other crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add your sugar, salt, pepper and the chopped basil. Stir the pot well to combine.

Once the sauce begins to bubble, lower the heat to minimum. Simmer the sauce lightly until it thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.

Ricotta cheese mix

24 ounces of fresh ricotta cheese

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup grated Parmesan

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

In another medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for your ricotta mixture. You can now make your meatball ziti.

Ingredients of the casserole dish

1 pound of cooked rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente and at room temperature

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, small cubes

¼ cup grated Parmesan

Fresh parsley, garnish

Add 2 cups of your tomato sauce to your pasta cooked at room temperature and set aside.

On the bottom of a large 9×13-inch baking dish, place 2 cups of your tomato meatball sauce. Then add 1/3 of your pasta and 1/3 of your tomato sauce. Add half of your ricotta cheese mixture and repeat all the remaining ingredients.

Once you’ve added the last of your sauce, add the remaining cheese. Place your rigatoni casserole dish on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes.

When the ziti is bubbling on the sides and the top is golden, cooking is done. Let your casserole dish rest in the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

Sarah Schweitzer is doubly certified in Culinary Arts and Bakery & Pastry from the Escoffier Culinary Arts School. She is a former cook of Chef Robert Irvine at the “Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine” which was located at the Downtown Allentown Market. Sarah is currently working as a sous chef at Ateira’s on First and has her own blog She can be reached at [email protected]

Baked rigatoni with mini meatballs

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