hearty baked rigatoni – or what to make when inspiration deserts you

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I don’t post very many main dish recipes, mostly because it’s difficult to take good photos after dark and my family thinks I am weird when I try to take photos of my food. However, this space is also someplace that I have started to record my most used recipes, so in order to have it someplace accessible to myself I am adding this one dinner dish. The photo isn’t great, but then I am not really a food blogger.

I am a reluctant cook – by the time we are all home from school and work I am mostly used up, so I have a few easy fall-backs that I rely on when I am empty of creative ideas for dinner.  Everyone in our house enjoys this dinner and I like it because nobody whines when I make it (in fact they always have seconds).

This recipe is easily adaptable – I often throw in leftover cooked chicken, bacon pieces or chopped spinach. I also use the tomato sauce that I made in the summer and add in a few frozen tomatoes – I just run the frozen whole tomatoes under running water for a few moments and the skins slide off, then I let them thaw, chop them up and throw them in with the rest of the ingredients. The one constant in this recipe is the basil – I picked the last of my basil at the end of the summer and stored it in the freezer mainly to add to this dish. It’s just not as good without basil.

I’m not sure this has ever been made the same way twice, but the following is the basic recipe that I use as a starting point:

Easy Baked Rigatoni

  • 1 lb rigatoni (450 gms), cooked and drained
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (or 1 jar of sauce)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, drained (or a few fresh or frozen tomatoes, chopped)
  • basil, chopped (to taste)
  • (optional) chopped spinach, leftover cooked chicken or cooked and chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 350F. Toss the hot pasta with the ricotta, parmesan, basil, half of the mozzarella, the chopped tomatoes and half of the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce on top and cover with the rest of the mozzarella.

Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese has melted and browned.

If I start this the moment I get home, I can usually have it ready by the time the dad gets home from work. Most of the assembly can be done in minutes – and I can spend the 30 minutes that it’s baking getting my kids to do their chores. Or trying.

Linked to Gastronomical Sovereignty, Wildcrafting Wednesday, A Pinch of Joy, Frugally Sustainable

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30 thoughts on “hearty baked rigatoni – or what to make when inspiration deserts you

  1. sounds like a yummy homey meal

  2. Fen. says:

    Sounds easy and delish!

  3. Looks delicious! (and I’m not a fan of pictures of food, but this looks terrific. Plus, I love a simple meal I can toss together in 15 minutes, then forget for another 30.

  4. Lauren says:

    Wait, you freeze whole tomatoes? That is brilliant — why have I never thought of that before? Do you peel them first?

    The baked rigatoni looks delicious!

    • You can – you don’t have to peel them either. I keep whole tomatoes in a large freezer bag (when I get tired of making sauces, etc with everything from the garden) and you can use them in soups, stews, etc later on. The skins slide right off when you take them out of the freezer and run them under water for a few moments.

  5. Fairy says:

    Mmmmm!! I hear you on being all used up by the time dinnertime comes around. No kids here but we have a long commute and arrive home after 7pm so whatever I cook needs to be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

    Weekend preparation and a menu plan are my lifesavers.

  6. Somer says:

    Now this is exactly the kind of meal I need to be making right now! Although, I’m so lazy, at the moment, I’d probably add extra liquid to the casserole dish and not even boil the pasta!

  7. Yummy, thanks for sharing this, I need meals like these at the moment!

  8. Sophie33 says:

    A very tasty & yummy dish! I love it!

  9. Jennifer says:

    Awesome! I love easy!

  10. Sarah says:

    I appreciate that tip for freezing whole tomatoes. THAT’s gonna happen this year. Thanks Heidi. And thanks for this recipe. This is my kind of comfort food for sure, and I can’t wait to make this. The picture is wonderful….and it’s driving me crazy. 🙂

  11. Kerry says:

    We looooove baked rigatoni! Hubs is quite the pro : )

  12. I love recipes like this as they are so tasty, filling and easy to make. Thanks for posting it.

  13. this is great stick to your ribs and warm your bones winter food! Easy to make, not overly expensive, and filling!

  14. Sounds yummy and easy….thanks…Diane

  15. […] wrote about Bacon and Cheddar Muffins and Baked Rigatoni and tried out a couple of new recipes that seemed to go over well and will be tried […]

  16. Somer says:

    Mmm, easy comfort food at it’s finest! Hope you are feeling a bit better my friend.

    • It is – we had it just the other night with some fresh garden veggies.

      I am feeling better, thanks. Just some numbness and spasms left, but they might be permanent now. Sometimes not everything goes away. But maybe it will..

      I’d better get back to work before my kids are home for the summer.. 🙂

  17. […] to come up in the garden have been making their way into our dinners, with our favourite being a baked rigatoni using swiss chard, onions, chives and basil from the garden. The girls have been helping out more […]

  18. Barbara Good says:

    Yum, and my one child of mine that does eat dinner loves pasta so I think this would be a winner. It’s going on the menu plan for next week – love the versatility of it too. Thanks for sharing Heidi.

  19. […] second recipe was Heidi’s hearty baked rigatoni, another fast and fabulous dinner and one that is versatile to boot.  Heidi mentioned she often […]

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