Baked Rigatoni

Nothing says carbs, fat, and calories comfort food to me quite like pasta. I'm a total pasta freak aficionado, to be sure. I could really probably eat pasta five days a week and never tire of it...though the Hubs would probably be begging for some meat and potatoes after day two. Go figure.

So as I was watching the so-called 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray on the Food Network the other day, I was totally jazzed to see a pasta recipe that looked delicious. I knew I had to try it. I also knew that it would take far more than 30 minutes to make it, because even though Rachel magically completes all these meals in a half an hour, I don't know anyone else who can. But when I see a good looking pasta dish, I won't let an extra 30 minutes or so stand in my way of making it.

The dish Rachael made is called Chicken Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Pasta Fake-Bake. And yes, I'm serious about that name. I think Rachael must have lost a bet or something and had to call it that. ;) It looked great just as she made it, but being the crafty-cooking gal that I am, I had to make a few changes to really call it my own. Feel free to click on the link above to get her original recipe. But if you want mine, called Baked Rigatoni (short and sweet, no?), then keep reading.

Baked Rigatoni Recipe


1 LB Rigatoni
Kosher Salt
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 LB Ground Italian Sausage
1 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Large Onion, Diced
3-5 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
Ground Black Pepper
3/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 (28oz) Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 TSP Dried Basil (1 TSP for Sauce and 1 for Pasta/Cheese Mixture)
1-2 TSP Italian Seasoning (to taste)
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese


Bring a large pot of water to boil on stove for the pasta. When it boils, add the Kosher Salt and drop the pasta and cook to al dente.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, add the Olive Oil and heat, then add the Italian Sausage to brown. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and cook a few minutes more, until peppers and onions are tender. Season with Salt & Pepper. Add the Chicken Stock and then stir in the Crushed Tomatoes. Season with Basil and Italian Seasoning, and more salt, if desired. Heat just until bubbly then reduce heat to low.

When the rigatoni is al dente drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot. Add the Ricotta Cheese, Salt & Pepper, 1 TSP of Basil, and half of the Parmesan Cheese. Stir to combine the ingredients.

In a 9x13 baking dish, pour in half the sauce mixture. Top with all of the rigatoni/cheese mixture, then cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan Cheese. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the cheesy pasta has set and all is heated through.

I think this ended up taking me about an hour to make from start to finish. But now that I've made it once, it should go at least a little faster next time...maybe I can get it down to 45 minutes.  It may never be a 30 Minute Meal like Rachael's, but hey, as long as it tastes good, I don't really care. And at least my recipe has a name that takes less than 30 minutes to say! That's something.