Here’s a delicious dinner dish for your Meatless Monday. This Baked Rigatoni is a great Winter dish to serve any night of the week and is here to win over your stomach. Baked pasta dishes have been my go-to meals lately. Here in Los Angeles, we have been having some pretty cold weather and I have been needing more than just soup to keep me warm. I have been making this dish A LOT so thankfully, it is easy to prepare.
If you are a meat lover and that is something you want in this dish, then Italian sausage would work perfectly as would ground beef or ground turkey. As much as I love meat, I decided to make this without meat and I did not miss it at all. The seasoning and flavor in this dish make up for the lack of meat.
What really gives this meal its personality is the pasta sauce. I can smell all the ingredients as the sauce simmers and once a taste of that sauce hits my tongue, I am hooked! Every ingredient works together in perfect harmony to create this masterpiece of a dish. After whipping up the sauce the “hardest” part is now over and it is time to move to assembly.
Let’s get into this YUMMY cheese. It is important to use a low-moisture cheese since it melts so well. The goal here, is to have a nice enough layer of cheese so that it can melt when it bakes, and then brown nicely when it broils. I like adding extra around the edges of the pan so I can get the cheese to form into a crust-like texture. This is great for an added crunch to a soft-textured meal. Top it with some Italian seasoning and it is ready to be baked.
Another reason I like making this dish is because it freezes extremely well. This Baked Rigatoni can last in the freezer for up to 2 months. Whenever I make this, I make at least 2 pans and have one for the week and one frozen for a later time. The leftovers are good too because the flavors get time to settle into each other for longer. It is almost like they marinate the pasta.
For serving, I like to serve this dish with garlic bread or plain french bread, a garden salad and a glass of red wine. This meal is certainly family approved. If you have a busy week, or just do not feel like cooking for the rest of the week, it is a great meal option. I’m hoping this recipe is hassle-free for you and makes your meal planning easier.