Do you love pasta bakes like I do? Well this one, filled with melted mozzarella, hearty rigatoni pasta, tender cannellini beans, and rich tomato sauce will knock your socks off! Try my Tuscan Baked Rigatoni for a delicious dinner the whole family will adore.
Cozy Baked Rigatoni
This dish is just so comforting, especially in cold weather, thanks to the deeply-flavored tomato sauce and melting mozzarella cheese in every bite. I’ve added some extra nutrition (and deliciousness) by including spinach, cannellini beans and fresh garlic.
It’s so good, and so good for you! Plus, the aroma will fill your house and make it smell so wonderful. A feast for all the senses, you know?
What Makes this Baked Pasta Tuscan?
I call this a Tuscan baked pasta, because of the classic pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) flavors. Pasta e fagioli is a very popular soup in Tuscany, and it typically includes both pasta and white beans in a creamy tomato-based broth.
And, the cup of heavy cream in this homemade sauce really makes the dish indulgent. Abbondanza!
Feel free to make all the substitutions you like. For example, you could definitely use ground turkey instead of ground beef, or substitute a cup of cream and a 28-ounce jar of prepared sauce for the homemade sauce in the recipe.
- Ground Beef: You’ll need a pound or so of ground beef for this pasta dish. I like ground chuck or sirloin; keep in mind that ground chuck is typically fattier and needs to be well-drained.
- Pasta: Pre-cook one pound of rigatoni pasta. You can also substitute penne or ziti.
- Mozzarella Cheese: I like to shred fresh mozzarella, but you can also use pre-shredded mozzarella. You’ll need two cups total.
- Olive Oil: For sauteing the garlic.
- Fresh Garlic: Mince or press about 4 cloves of good fresh garlic.
- Heavy Cream: Adding a cup of heavy cream to this sauce makes it so delicious!
- Crushed Tomatoes: You’ll need a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes.
- Salt & Pepper: I like to use cracked black pepper in this recipe
- Fresh Spinach: Roughly chop 8 cups of spinach, or 10 ounces of frozen spinach, well drained in a colander.
- Beans: You’ll need a 15-oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained.
- Parmesan Cheese: 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded.
- Fresh Parsley: To garnish.
How to Make Tuscan Baked Rigatoni
If a pasta bake is going to be cozy, I think it should also be easy. This recipe is great because you can mix it up without too much effort, and then hang out while it bakes and enjoy the enticing aroma. It’s perfect for a lazy Sunday, or any day!
- Prep Oven, Pan & Pasta: Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray (or grease the pan with butter or oil). Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Cool the pasta, and combine it with the mozzarella in a large mixing bowl.
- Cook Beef: In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and add the ground beef. Cook for about 5 minutes. Once cooked through, remove the ground beef from the skillet and mix it into the pasta mixture.
- Make Sauce: Cook the garlic in the same skillet for about one minute. Then, add heavy cream, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and beans and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Assemble Casserole: Add the tomato mixture to the pasta mixture and gently toss until evenly combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake: Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
Tips for Success
This is a very easy and forgiving recipe, but every dish has its quirks! To take this recipe over the top, try any or all of the following tips for success.
- Slightly Undercook the Pasta: The one flaw in some pasta bakes is that the pasta can end up a little too soft for some, thanks to the double-cooking process. To fix that (if it bothers you!) you can undercook the pasta slightly before adding it to the recipe.
- Let It Stand: After baking, try letting the pasta stand for 5-10 minutes to both cool and stabilize before serving.
- Vegetarian Variation: While I make this recipe with ground beef, it would be equally good as a vegetarian dish! You could substitute a pound of diced veggies, from potatoes to mushrooms to zucchini, or a blend. Just cook them first, either by sauteing or steaming, so that they don’t end up undercooked.
What Goes with Baked Rigatoni?
Everything tastes good with pasta, am I right? If you’re not convinced, stick to the dishes below. They’re guaranteed to go great with this rigatoni casserole!
- Dinner Rolls: I like to serve this pasta with a warm pan of No Knead Dinner Rolls. They’re delicious, easy, and they’ll make this meal even more cozy!
- A Green Veggie: You could go with a nice salad, some simple steamed broccoli, or one of my personal favorites: Roasted Sugar Snap Peas. The flavor is out of this world, thanks to the red onions and yummy roasting method!
- Chocolate: I mean, as long as we’re being cozy, why not go all out? I love, love, love these Hot Chocolate Sugar Cookies. They taste like your favorite cup of cocoa, complete with mini marshmallows!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
This casserole is great for making ahead of time because it’s so simple to store. Here’s how to best preserve baked rigatoni.
- To Refrigerate: Cover the pasta bake well with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also scoop the leftovers into airtight food storage containers.
- To Reheat: Place the leftovers on a microwave-safe plate and cover lightly with a paper towel. Heat for about a minute at a time, until heated through. Be careful, as microwaves tend to produce “hot spots” in food. To avoid this chance, you can reheat the leftovers in an ovenproof dish at 350°F until heated through.
Can You Freeze Homemade Rigatoni?
Yes, you can! This dish freezes well. Place individual portions in freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. The frozen portions will keep for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Tuscan Baked Rigatoni
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 8 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 can (15-ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rigatoni pasta and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
- In a skillet set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the ground beef. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
- Once cooked through, remove the ground beef from the skillet and mix it into the pasta mixture. Set aside.
- Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds over medium-high heat.
- Add heavy cream, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and beans and allow to cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the tomato mixture to the pasta mixture; gently toss together until evenly coated.
- Transfer pasta mixture to previously prepared pan and top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.
More Pasta Recipes To Try
Tons of my top favorite recipes incorporate pasta in some way. These ones included!