January 18, 2011
Rigatoni al Forno
One of the simpler pleasures in life is cutting into a fresh from the oven pan of baked pasta. My favorite is full of cheese, which is at once gooey in the middle and crunchy on top. The pasta itself must be tender in the middle, but the pieces sticking out on top have got to be crunchy! I like rigatoni better than ziti or penne because it is larger and more cheese can get stuck inside of it!
My recipe below is only slightly adapted from this Mark Bittman recipe from the NY Times.
Rigatoni al Forno
Serves 6 hungry people
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with liquid (I transferred the tomatoes to a bowl and mashed them slightly with a potato masher to break them up. You could also do this with your hands.)
(I found that I would have liked more sauce in this dish, so next time I will also add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.)
Couple springs fresh oregano, leaves chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound rigatoni
1 pound part skim block mozzarella, diced
3/4 - 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt it. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Stir, cook another 2 minutes undisturbed, then add onion and garlic. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Add tomatoes, sauce and oregano and bring to a boil. Simmer while cooking pasta, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream just before you drain the pasta.
3. Cook pasta until just tender; it should still be too hard to eat. Drain it (but do not shake the colander; allow some water to cling to the pasta) and toss it with the sauce and half of the mozzarella. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and transfer pasta mixture to it. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until top is browned and cheese bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.