Geniusly simple tomato sauce, a creamy layer of peppery Cheddar sauce, an ooey, gooey crown of melty, tangy, Italian Asiago and of course stand up and cheer rigatoni. Sì!
I knew the moment I came across Rigatoni Pie online that it was destiny. I mean, really, how could I not, how could anyone not, give this one a whirl?
This dish just envelops all that's fun about tootling around in the kitchen. It's all Comfort, with a capital 'C', it whispers sweet nothings to our constant craving for Italian deliciousness, it puts childlike abandon into the making of it and it's company worthy.
The recipe that caught my eye was on The Noble Pig blog, and made with a delectable meat sauce. It looks perfectly delicious just the way it is, but I had a hankerin' to fiddle with it a bit.
This time around, for my rigatoni pie, I opted for a meatless version, kicking up the tomato-y, cheesey quotient. I don't think you can go wrong, with or without meat, but quality ingredients are a must. Don't skimp. Use ingredients that would make that special Italian Auntie, we all wish we had, smile.
I got some imported Italian Pasta Jesce rigatoni, some canned San Marzano tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano and some wonderful, nutty, sweet, tangy soft Italian asiago from my fave Italian Deli - Valoroso.
Then it was just.....Ready, Set, Go.......
I wanted to make my pie ahead of time, to bake later that evening, so first thing in the morning I whipped up My Marcella's Tomato Sauce and a batch of black pepper and Worcestershire riddled Cheddar sauce, so that they could cool down to room temperature before I put the pie together.
Then I cooked the rigatoni, just under al dente - the package suggested 13 minutes, I cooked mine 11 minutes and immediately rinsed with cold water until the pasta was completely cooled.
Pasta is tossed with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan, then stacked, upright in a buttered springform. Too fun!
Next, top the rigatoni with tomato sauce, schmooching the sauce down into the noodles to fill the centres.
Next, layer on the cheese sauce.
A crown of fresh tomato slices and grated Asiago.
Mangi con passione! Eat with passion!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Thanks to The Noble Pig, for another great recipe
* * * * * * * * * * * *
RIGATONI PIE - 8 servings
1 recipe My Marcella's Tomato Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded 'old' Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkling of sea or Kosher salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Butter for pan
1 plump, just ripe, fresh tomato, sliced
2 cups creamy Asiago cheese, grated
Make cheese sauce:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in pot, over medium high heat. Let start to just brown a bit. Whisk flour into butter until smooth. Reduce heat and add milk to butter mixture, whisking to combine. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Add Cheddar cheese, whisking until smooth. Add Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Sauce should be thick, but if it is too thick, just add a bit of milk. Whisk to combine and remove from heat.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone (I cooked mine for 11 minutes when the package indicated 13 minutes). When done, rinse well in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 2 Tablespoons olive oil to coat, then add grated Parmesan and gently toss to evenly distribute.
Generously butter 9-inch springform pan.
Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end. Spread tomato sauce on top of pasta. Push the tomato sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up. Told you this was fun to make!
Now top tomato-y noodles, with the cheese sauce and smooth into an even layer.
Lay fresh tomato slices on top of cheese sauce and top with grated Asiago. Cover with foil
Place springform pan on a pizza pan or cookie sheet, in case a bit of the tomato sauce wants to leak out.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, uncover, and bake another 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen, then unmold. Ta da! Cut into wedges and serve.
We had our pie with chewy, toasty ciabatta garlic bread, all crusty from the oven and wedge salad with Spicy Thousand Island dressing.
"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all"
~ Harriet van Horne