Rustico, rustic in Italian, is a country type of dish. Rigatoni Rustico has all the flavors of a lasagna but not all the work.
You’ll need to saute the onions and Italian sausage and cook the pasta, but assembling the ingredients only takes a few minutes.
Put it all together, refrigerate (even overnight) for a comforting weekday meal that is also good enough for company.
Taking only 30 minutes to bake, you can prepare a salad or vegetable and have dinner on the table by the time this hearty rustic pasta covered in mouthwatering melted goodness comes out of the oven.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups of your favorite sauce or 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 12 ounces rigatoni
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
In a large saute pan, warm oil and cook onions until soft and golden.
Add garlic, crushed fennel seed and Italian sausage, cook until sausage is slightly brown.
Stir in the marinara sauce, set aside while you cook the pasta (the Italian way).
In a large pot, bring 3-4 quarts of water to a boil, add salt, then pasta. If you are using a one-pound box of rigatoni and don’t have a scale, measure out 1 1/2 cups of the dry pasta (use at another time), the remaining pasta in the box is approximately 12 ounces. Cook about 10 minutes.
Drain, do not rinse, add immediately to pan with sauce.
Spread half of the pasta into an 8×8 baking dish (or 9×13 if you are doubling the recipe), top with spoonfuls of ricotta, then the mozzarella. Cover with the remaining pasta, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese evenly on top.
If you are not serving this tonight, cover and refrigerate, then remove from frig 30-45 minutes before baking, follow directions below. (Don’t forget to use a baking dish that’s refrigerator to oven safe, like Pyrex, because you don’t want your favorite pretty casserole dish cracking).
Cover with foil, bake in 350* for 30 minutes, until cheese has melted. (May take a little longer if you made it in advance and it’s just come from the frig).