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.
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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.