Several months ago I saw a photo of this pasta cake on one of these foodie sites, the name of which escapes me now, and I knew I had to have it. That cheesy top looked irresistible. It’s a Martha Stewart recipe for kids so there is very little seasoning in the original recipe. To perk up the flavor, I used freshly ground chuck and added a half teaspoon of Italian seasoning as well as a dash or two of red pepper flakes for a little background heat. I reduced the amount of Parmesan by half because one cup of Parmesan cheese would be overpowering not to mention expensive. You may need an extra set of clean hands to help you keep the rigatoni tubes upright as you arrange them. My son helped by shoring up the already set tubes as well as uprighting any errant tubes. It turned out rather good…it’s a keeper.
Serves 8 to 10
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- Butter, for pan
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add pasta; cook until slightly underdone. Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain. Toss pasta with 1 tablespoon oil to coat. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end.
- Spread 2 cups meat sauce on top of pasta, pushing it into holes. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until cheese is pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven, and let stand 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen; unmold. Cut into wedges. Serve with remaining sauce.