Baked Rigatoni or Pasta al Forno as they call it in Italy is quite possibly my favorite dish. Loaded with cheese with a crispy crust, it's easy to see why.
Baked Rigatoni, better known as Pasta al Forno in Italy is oven baked pasta loaded with cheese. There's many ways to prepare it, but there's only one way to eat it...fast and furious! This comfort food is one of my absolute favorites!
How do you make baked rigatoni (pasta al forno)?
Like I mentioned above, there's a number of ways you can prepare baked rigatoni. Some people use ricotta cheese...some don't. Others put hard boiled eggs in it...some don't. Some put peas in there's...some don't. Others layer their pasta al forno, some mix it all together.
There's really no right or wrong answer. It comes down to preference. But any which way you prepare it, it all starts with the sauce. Therefore, cook your sauce and make sure it's ready before you start preparing the pasta.
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then, put up a pot of salted boiling water and add your rigatoni. Cook for about half the time it calls for to make the pasta al dente. Strain and then add the pasta to a large bowl.
Now, let's start to mix all the ingredients. As I said earlier, some people like to layer their pasta al forno but I prefer to mix everything together.
First things first, let's start off by adding some sauce to the rigatoni. Mix.
Once you add the sauce, throw in some shredded fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Mix.
I realize it's easier to just get the bagged stuff, but trust me, make the extra effort to shred some fresh mozzarella and use that. Add the mozzarella first and then mix in the ricotta cheese.
Next, add some Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Parmesan) cheese. Mix.
Now repeat all the steps except the ricotta cheese. More mozzarella...more Parmesan...mix. Make sure to save some mozzarella for the top just before baking.
Finally, if you're adding peas...add them now. Mix.
Now grab a baking dish and add the rigatoni mixture.
Top with some more of the sauce and a few more handfuls of the fresh mozzarella and you're ready for baking.
Should you cover your pasta al forno?
Yes. For the first 20 minutes of baking you're going to want to keep your baked rigatoni covered. This will help keep the moisture in and keep the pasta al forno from drying out.
After 20 minutes, take the foil off and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered.
Just look at that. Baked rigatoni, pasta al forno, at it's finest!
Tools I used in this recipe:
- Emile Henry Baking Dish
- Misen Chef's Knife
- KP Kitchen Measuring Cups/Spoons
- OXO Handheld Cheese Grater
- Riveira Wooden Cooking Spoons
- Lipper Mixing Bowl
Baked Rigatoni (Pasta al Forno)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large pot of salted water. When boiling, add your rigatoni. Cook for about half the time it calls for to make the pasta al dente. Strain and then add the pasta to a large bowl.
- Add a scoop or two of your sauce to the bowl of pasta. Mix.
- Add the fresh mozzarella. Mix. Then add the ricotta cheese. Mix.
- Add the Parmesan cheese. Mix.
- Add another round of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. After you add each ingredient, mix all together. Next, add your peas. Mix.
- Add the pasta to a large baking dish and add another scoop or two of your sauce and top with the last of the mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.