Whether you call it Rigatoni al Forno or Pasta al Forno it's all the same. Both are perfect for a make ahead meal that's hearty and frugal. Perfect for large crowds or an intimate dinner for two.
What is Rigatoni al Forno?
Rigatoni al Forno is a baked pasta that is combined with a meaty tomato sauce, eggs, cheese and is a hearty meal that will cure anyone's hunger. All these ingredients are baked together in the oven and then served as a main entrée.
- What is Rigatoni al Forno?
- Why Make this Pasta Rigatoni al Forno?
- Ingredients Needed to Make Rigatoni al Forno
- Instructions - How to Make the Best Rigatoni Pasta al Forno
- Variations for Rigatoni Baked Pasta
- Top Tip
- Other Popular Main Dish Ideas
- Recipe Details
- Food Safety
My mom made this growing up and I now make it for my family, but of course mom's is always better. Maybe that's because a meal always tastes better when someone else is making it for you - with love.
Why Make this Pasta Rigatoni al Forno?
Well to start, it tastes great! But here are some other reasons to make this Rigatoni al Forno:
- It's a hearty dish that will satisfy everyone's hunger
- It's economical to make
- You can make it for large groups or small groups
- You can make it ahead of time and bake it just before eating
- Leftovers store exceptionally well
- You can make it vegan or vegetarian
Pasta a la Carbonara ain't so shabby either if you like a creamy egg parmesan sauce.
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Ingredients Needed to Make Rigatoni al Forno
There are three parts to making this dish and typically include the following ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Ground nutmeg
- Tomato puree
- Tomato paste
- Ground pepper
- Dried oregano
- Fresh basil
- Rigatoni pasta
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
See recipe card for details.
Instructions - How to Make the Best Rigatoni Pasta al Forno
In a large saucepan heat up the olive oil and brown the onions and garlic.
Toss in the veal and brown the veal. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add nutmeg and continue to brown veal. Once veal is cooked. Add tomato paste and stir into coat all of the ground meet.
Add tomato puree and oregano , bring to boil. The sauce will cook down and get thick, if necessary add ½ cup of water if the sauce is too thick.
Simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes.
Toss in finely chopped fresh basil (dried is fine too). Set aside.
Prepare your rigatoni past as per the manufacture's instructions. Drain and set aside. Make sure that you drain the pasta when it's "al dente".
Start by mixing the pasta with about half of the meat sauce in a large bowl. Place a little bit of the sauce in a baking dish with a bit of water start layering the sauce covered rigatoni with mozzarella, parmesan and egg until you have finished all the ingredients.
Bake covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
HINT: Make sure that there is enough liquid in the pan to finish cooking the pasta while baking. If necessary you can add half a cup of liquid to the roasting pan or baking dish.
Variations for Rigatoni Baked Pasta
The basic ingredients for this pasta al forno include: meat sauce, parmesan cheese, boiled egg, rigatoni pasta, mozzarella (or any other shredded cheese).
You may not like boiled eggs in your pasta and that's ok. You don't have to add boiled eggs. Instead, here are some other ideas/ingredients to add that will make your pasta al forno different.
- Sliced Pork Sausage - instead of using ground beef or veal, use cooked slice Italian pork sausage
- Vegetarian Style - (e.g. cut broccoli) replace the meat sauce with vegetables or a tomato sauce made with vegetables for a vegetarian version
- Vegan - you can try to make this vegan by using vegan ingredients, but I don't recommend it.
- Carbone Spicy Rigatoni - make a copycat version of Carbone's Spicy Rigatoni by adding chilli peppers, vodka and cream and eliminating the meat sauce and baking.
If you like rice, you should try my recipe for riso al forno, you'll absolutely love it!
Here are some great substitutions to meet certain dietary needs:
- Gluten Free Rigatoni - use a gluten free rigatoni or any other type of pasta to make it gluten free
- Egg White - instead of using whole egg, kick up the protein a notch and use egg white.
- Bechamel Sauce Rigatoni - substitute the red tomato sauce with a bechamel sauce
If you can think of any other way to make this chicken cacciatore casserole dish unique, go for it!
You will need a dish that is deep enough to hold all of your pasta and sauce. It's best that the dish has a lid, but if it does not you will need to cover it with aluminum foil. If you don't cover the pasta it will dry out while it is cooking and you will end up with crispy pasta chips!
To make this Rigatoni al Forno have ready either aluminum foil trays. Pryrex dishes or covered roasting pans are perfect for making pasta al forno. Pots, pans and frypans are definitely a must and wooden spoons to stir your meat sauce. You'll also need a cheese grater to grate your cheese if you have a whole mozzarella or brick of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for a maximum of 4 days. You can also freeze for later. When you craving some homemade veal lasagna, thaw it out in the fridge for 24 hours and then warm it up in the microwave, oven or on the stove top. Yum!
Another option for warming up pasta is to fry it up in a frypan like my mom used to do. It will come out crispy and delish!
When cooking your pasta you will want to make sure you don't cook it all the way through. For the best pasta al forno, you will need to take out the past when it's about ¾ of the way cooked.
Essentially the pasta needs to be less cooked than "al dente". The reason that the pasta needs to be partially raw is that it will finish cooking as it is baking.
If you cook the pasta all the way through before combining it with the other ingredients and baking it, you will end up with pasta that is very soft and overcooked.
Penne pasta are tubes of pasta about 1 ½ inch in length. They come either smooth (lisce) on the outside or lined (rigate). Rigatoni are very similar but are larger in diameter and generally only come with lines on the outside (rigate). They usually are the same size in length. The main benefit of using rigatoni is that the inner pasta tubes get filled with more sauce and condiment.
Carbone's Spicy Rigatoni uses hot chilli peppers, a vodka cream sauce and doesn't bake in the oven. The pasta is cooked and then covered in sauce and served immediately topped with your preferred parmesan cheese.
Rigatoni Amatriciana is usually made with rigatoni pasta, pancetta or guancale, plum tomatoes and a combination of pecorino and parmesan cheese. Rigatoni Amatriciana is not baked in the oven like Rigatoni al Forno but mixed with the sauce and then served.
Usually rigatoni pasta is used in rigatoni al forno. But if you don't have rigatoni you can use any type of small noodles like penne rigate, pasta shells or macaroni.
Al dente refers to cooking pasta not all the way through. Leaving the pasta slightly underdone. Al dente means "with a bite".
The best type of dish to use when making rigatoni al forno is a dish that is deep enough to hold the pasta, filling and sauce. You can use an aluminum tray, a roasting pan or a baking dish. A covered dish is recommended so that the pasta doesn't dry out. But if you don't have a cover, you can place foil over your dish during the baking process.
Other Popular Main Dish Ideas
(Rigatoni) Pasta al Forno
- 1 lbs ground veal
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 onion chopped
- 750 ml tomato puree
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 3 basil leaves
- ½ tbsp dried basil or 3 fresh basil leaves
- ½ cups water
For the Pasta
- 450 g Rigatoni Pasta or any small tuberos pasta
- ½ cups parmigiano cheese grated
- ½ cups mozzarella shredded
- 2 eggs hard boiled, optional
- ¾ cups pasta water
For the Sauce
- In a large saucepan heat up the olive oil and brown the onions and garlic.
- Toss in the veal and brown the veal. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add nutmeg and continue to brown veal. Once veal is cooked. Add tomato paste and stir into coat all of the ground meet.
- Add tomato puree and bring to boil. Add oregano. The sauce will cook down and get thick, if necessary add ½ cup of water if the sauce is too thick.
- Bring down to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes.
- Toss in finely chopped fresh basil (dried is fine too). Set aside
For the Pasta
- Cook pasta as per manufacturer's instructions. Remove pasta when it's al dente (not fully cooked).
- Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water for the assembly. Drain pasta and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Place the pasta in a large bowl or return to empty pot.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Place about half of the sauce into the bowl with the pasta. Mix well. Add half of the parmigiana cheese and half of the shredded mozzarella. Mix well.
- In a medium sized baking dish (9 x 8), place ¾ cup of water and one scoop of the sauce. Pour half of the pasta mixture in the dish. Spread half of the remaining sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle half of the remaining parmigiana cheese and half of the remaining shredded mozzarella. Chop the hard boiled eggs, and sprinkle half on top.
- Pour the rest of the pasta mixture on top. Spread the remaining sauce over pasta. Top with the remaining chopped egg.
- Bake at 350°F degrees for 45 minutes. You will know when it is done when a fork is easily inserted in the pasta and the pasta is soft. Once the pasta is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it stand for about 15 minutes so that it sets and is easy to scoop and serve.
Note that the storage guidelines provided on this page and site are estimates from personal experiences. We are all adults and as an adult you are responsible to ensure that the food you eat is safe to eat. Since, I'm not a food safety expert, you are responsible to review your local guidelines on food storage prior to storing any food left-overs.
- Not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove