Monday, July 16, 2012

baked meaty cheesy rigatoni

My husband is a triathlete and my brother-in-law is one, too (I did one triathlon race, which might be my last one. so I don't consider myself a triathlete who can carbo load). So in our house, 'carbo load' is a familiar term. I usually cook lots of pasta or potatoes two days before the race (not a day before since it might come out during the race. haha). This is the dish I made for my brother-in-law, who completed the Olympic Distance triathlon race over the weekend - sub 3 hours, too! 


Rigatoni - 3 cups (measured when uncooked)

Onion - 1/2 med (chopped finely)
Mushroom - 6 med (chopped finely)
Zucchini - 2 med (chopped finely)
Garlic - 2 cloves (minced)

Ground beef - 1/2 lb

[optional veggies]
Carrots - 2 med (chopped finely)
Celery - 2 stalks (chopped finely)

Marinara or Pasta sauce - 1/2 jar (2 cups)
Tomato ketchup - 2 TBS
Brown sugar - 1~3 TBS, depending on how sweet you want the sauce to be
Italian seasoning - 2 tsp **See TIPS
Salt & Pepper - 1 tsp each (or to taste)

Sour cream - 1/2 to 1 cup (optional)

Provolone cheese - 4 slices (or less if you prefer less cheesy)
Mozzarella cheese - 1 cup


  1. Chop all veggies & garlic.
  2. Cook Rigatoni pasta according to the packet (about 12 minutes for al dente)
Chop the veggies


  1. In a 5 quart pot, add olive oil or butter, fry onion (and harder veggies like carrots) until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Keep stirring. 
  2. Add in ground beef. Fry until beef is somewhat cooked. 
  3. Add in all the veggies. Stir well. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in Marinara or pasta sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and Italian seasoning. Cover for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens (liquid evaporates) Taste with salt & pepper.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  6. Meanwhile, add in sour cream to rigatoni to give a creamy texture.
  7. On a glass or baking dish, add the 1/3 of the tomato sauce, line with half of the sour creamed pasta, followed by two slices (or one) of provolone cheese. Put another 1/3 tomato sauce on top, followed by half of the pasta and cheese. The layer should finish with the last 1/3 tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top. 
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is bubbly and cheese is melted (and golden brown). 

Let it simmer down to get thicker texture

I only had about 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, so it looks sad on the top. :)


  1. The pasta has quite a strong cheese taste, so serving it with bread sticks or salad will help balance the taste out. 
  2. Instead of ground beef, you can also add grilled chicken on top or separate. 


  •  If you don't have Italian seasoning, just use your favorite herbs or combination of several different types of herbs. 
  • Provolone cheese has very strong cheese aftertaste. Cut down on the cheese by adding more pasta or simply use half of what the recipe calls for. 
  • No time to bake? Just serve it up by pouring the meat sauce over the rigatoni pasta. It still tastes good. :)

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