Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs

Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs_Hero


Is there anything more comforting than baked rigatoni? How about a tray of baked rigatoni with ricotta meatballs? This meal is rich and garlicky and flavorful and perfect for a cold winter night dinner.

Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs_MidPage
This meal is a divine bowl of comfort that the entire family will love! Perfect for holidays or for days when you just need some comfort food in your belly!

I’ll admit, I am usually not a huge fan of baked pasta but some nights just necessitate cheesy, carby, baked goodness and this recipe for baked rigatoni is that and more.

How to Make this Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs:

I start with a rich ricotta meatball recipe. For these meatballs, I added lightly crushed pine nuts which is taken from a Sicilian-style meatball. I love the texture that pine nuts give these ricotta meatballs. If you can’t find pine nuts or you want to be more cost-effective, simply omit.

I used pork and beef but you can use any combination of pork, beef, or veal.

I then par-boiled the rigatoni and tossed it with a quick, homemade tomato sauce. Finally, I baked everything together with fresh mozzarella on top. The final result is a delicious, rich, flavorful baked pasta dish that will please the whole family.

Looking for more pasta recipes? Check my archives!

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Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs_Hero

Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta Meatballs

Is there anything more comforting than baked rigatoni? How about a tray of baked rigatoni with ricotta meatballs?
4.5 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 876kcal

Equipment

  • Large stock pot
  • Wide pot
  • 13''x9'' Casserole Dish

Ingredients

Ricotta Meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs plus more if needed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts crushed
  • 10 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 shallot peeled and minced
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil for frying

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil for frying, if needed
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine (or beef stock)
  • 3 sprigs basil
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano or use 1/2 teaspoon dry
  • 28 ounces crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 15 ounces whole-peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar if needed
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste

Rigatoni Bake:

  • 16 ounces rigatoni
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella (use the small bocconcini or a large bowl, torn into pieces)
  • Fresh sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil optional, for garnish
  • Fresh basil leaves optional, for garnish

Instructions

Prepare the Meatballs:

  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the breadcrumbs, pork, beef, and neutral oil. Whisk to combine. Taste and season to your preferences with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  • Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture and stir to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid.
  • Add the pork and beef and season the meat with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  • Using your hands, gently mix to combine everything. Do not over-mix the meat.
  • Form the meat into tablespoon-sized meatballs and transfer to a plate.

Fry the Meatballs:

  • Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, turning occasionally, until browned all over. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through. Continue cooking in batches until all meatballs are browned.

Prepare the Sauce:

  • If the pot seems dry, add 2 teaspoons neutral oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 6-7 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Deglaze the pot with the wine. Bring to a boil and add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Season liberally with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and sugar, if desired. Bring to a boil and add the meatballs. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and season again to your preferences. Discard the basil and oregano stems.

Prepare the Rigatoni Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni for 3-4 minutes short of al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and add it to the sauce before draining the rigatoni.
  • Spoon a few ladles of the sauce into the casserole dish. Add the rigatoni and toss with a few more ladles of sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce and meatballs on top of the rigatoni. Arrange the mozzarella on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the casserole is very bubbly and the cheese is melted.

To Serve:

  • Spoon the rigatoni into bowls and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 876kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 513mg | Potassium: 807mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 668IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 336mg | Iron: 5mg

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