Giant Skillet Rigatoni
This is one of those epic meals you’ll want to make again and again and again.
It’s cozy, comforting, and DELICIOUS, not to mention super easy to make. So if you haven’t made a baked pasta before, this is the perfect place to start!
What makes this recipe different is a mix of simple ingredients + mindful preparation. There’s homemade sauce from scratch — will I ever stop yapping about this?! –, organic rigatoni noodles, and tons of fresh cheese, all expertly layered into a giant skillet. The ingredients are straightforward and the cooking is a breeze, but like all Italian recipes this one comes down to love.
Are you humming a tune while you mash the tomatoes? Do you break into a dance while you sprinkle the cheese? If not, you’re doing it WRONG.
This recipe is about fun, and excitement, and loving every damn second. So if you’re not going to put your party pants on before making this pasta, don’t even bother!!
Lean Cuisine might be more your speed.
But if you’re willing to get unabashedly giddy for every. single. step. (there’s only 4, don’t stress), then this is going to be your best pasta ever. It starts with sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, seasonings, and oh-so-critical sugar. Sugar is KEY to achieving that delicious Italian realness, so don’t even think about skipping it. It brings out the tomatoes ripe, robust flavor in a way no other ingredient can, so it is an absolute must for any homemade sauce. How much you use is naturally up to you, but so long as it’s in there, I’m cool with it.
I know how much my approval means to you.
As written I suggest you simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, but frankly it could go for hours. So if you have the time and patience to stew the sauce for a solid 60 minutes, I’d highly recommend doing so — The longer it simmers, the deeper and richer the flavor grows. Regardless, once the sauce is prepped simply cook your pasta, then toss it in a light film of sauce. Next grease a cast iron or oven-proof skillet with a film of olive oil, then layer as follows:
You may think I’m writing like this to be annoying, and honestly it’s kinda true. But this is also the exact, specific, ONLY correct way to layer this skillet, so please follow it to a T. You’ll be glad you did, trust.
I initially baked this covered for about 10 minutes to get all the ingredients stewing, then uncovered for 20 minutes more. In the end you have a crispy, cheesy, delightfully saucey pasta that’s exactly what dreams are made of. It’s fresh and herbaceous, rich and satisfying, and the edible equivalent of a giant hug. Plus, the freezing potential is on point! Throw your leftovers in tupperware, freeze, then reheat whenever.
As if this recipe couldn’t get any better, it just did. xo
Giant Skillet Rigatoni
- (two) 28 oz can peeled or crushed tomatoes
- 2 1/2 tsps basil
- 2 1/2 tsps oregano
- 2 tsps crushed or minced garlic
- several dashes salt
- a few pinches black pepper
- a few pinches granulated sugar
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 1 lb rigatoni
- 8 oz whole milk ricotta
- 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (12 oz should cover it)
- 4 oz grated sharp cheese (parmesan, pecorino, or asiago are great!)
- fresh basil to garnish
- olive oil to grease
- Begin by preparing the sauce. In a large saucepan combine all sauce ingredients over a medium-low flame, adjusting the seasonings as needed and mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher if using peeled tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and mashing as appropriate.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F. Run an olive oil-dipped paper towel along the base and sides of a cast iron or oven-proof skillet to grease.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the rigatoni to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and return back to the same pot.
- Toss the cooked rigatoni in enough sauce so that the noodles are lightly coated. Next, layer the greased skillet with sauce, rigatoni, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese — Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Lastly sprinkle with the grated sharp cheese, then bake, uncovered, on oven middle rack for 25 – 30 minutes until the cheese has completely melted, broiling for 1 – 2 minutes at the end if you prefer a browner finish. Top with fresh basil, then EAT!