I generally spend one weekend day preparing food for the week ahead. A pasta dish is always a winner for a few reasons.
- The ingredients are cheap.
- It reheats well making a perfect lunch for the remaining work days.
- It freezes well so can be assembled and thrown in the oven an hour before dinner.
These are all qualities that I love in a weeknight dinner. Yes I have made homemade “gravy” plenty of times but, for all time-intensive purposes, jarred sauce is a great base start to a very pleasing weeknight dinner without taking all day to make. Hence the name, “Easy Baked Rigatoni.”
Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce
- 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 12oz rigatoni
- Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 log fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
- Brown Italian sausage. Drain and transfer to a heavy Dutch oven.
- Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Cook rigatoni until al dente in salted water. Drain but do NOT rinse.
- Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Add basil and rigatoni to sauce and mix to combine.
- Transfer to a freezer proof dish and top with mozzarella.
- Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling. If freezing, cook covered with foil for 50 minutes. Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling.