Happily, it tastes just as good as it looks. Kind of like a re-imagined baked ziti, this pie includes all of the classic Italian flavors you crave: tomato sauce, freshly cooked rigatoni, and plenty of cheese, all delivered in a clever and beautiful package. The perfect party food!
Homemade Rigatoni Pasta Pie Recipe
Makes one 9″ pie (8 servings)
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 24 ounces pasta sauce (with or without meat)
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Generously oil or butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan.
Cook the rigatoni. Follow the package instructions, but slightly undercook it. For instance, if the packaging calls for 12 minutes of boiling, only cook it for about 10.
Since you’ll be combining the rigatoni with wet ingredients and baking it later, you want to leave a little room for it to absorb more moisture later on.
Strain the cooked rigatoni and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, parmesan cheese, ricotta, about 1 ounce of the grated mozzarella, and the salt. Stir to combine; the pasta should be evenly coated.
Line the edge of the greased baking pan with the rigatoni, aligned so that it is standing up. I found that starting with the perimeter of the pan and then filling it in from there was the easiest method. Pack it in pretty tightly.
Spoon the sauce on top of the rigatoni, and use a spoon to gently push the sauce into the individual tubes of pasta. It takes a few minutes, but it’s oddly meditative.
Place your springform pan on top of a baking sheet, and put it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the oven. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella evenly on top, and return back to the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until the cheese is pleasingly golden.
Remove from the oven, and let stand for about 15 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen any stuck edges, then remove the sides of the springform.
Take a few moments to ooh and ahh and collect compliments from everyone in attendance. Slice into fat wedges to serve.
A Note On Sauce Texture
You can use virtually any type of tomato-based pasta sauce for this recipe, whether it’s a meat sauce, marinara sauce or a homemade pasta sauce with vegetables.
However, be sure to use a sauce that isn’t too chunky. You want it to fill the upright rigatoni before you bake; large chunks in your sauce can make this difficult. If your sauce is too thick, simply puree it before using it for this recipe.
For Crispy-Edge Lovers: Broil It!
If you can’t get enough of crispy edges, turn on the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes of baking. Keep a close eye on your pie, because broilers can vary and you don’t want to end up with a burnt top!