Italian Sausage Rigatoni

This baked pasta dish is the perfect option for a weeknight family dinner. It’s easy and inexpensive to make, and it’s sure to please everyone at the table. Spice it up with red pepper flakes and hot Italian sausage, or keep it mild with sweet sausage.

Recipe and photograph by Kimme Hargrove

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 package Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy)

24-ounce jar of prepared marinara sauce

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

Red pepper flakes, to taste (if desired)

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ pound rigatoni, cooked according to package directions

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat, and saute onion until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove sausage from casings, and crumble into onion mixture. Cook until browned. Add marinara sauce, fresh basil, red pepper (if desired), and salt and pepper. Mix in cooked rigatoni, and stir to combine. Pour half the pasta mixture into a 9-inch square (or small rectangular) baking pan. Layer fresh mozzarella over pasta. Cover with remaining pasta mixture, and sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 25 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil, if desired, and serve.

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