Sweet Italian sausage, roasted red bell peppers and thick layers of cheese make this easy baked rigatoni pasta recipe a family favorite.
This post is in partnership with DeLallo Foods
Crusty and melty. Officially these descriptions are opposites. But not when you’re talking baked pasta, because then they go hand in hand. If there’s one thing better than pasta and sausage it’s pasta and sausage with melty layers of cheese baked through and crisped and crusted on top.
Talk about the ultimate cheese pull.
This sausage and cheese baked rigatoni is one that’s destined to become a family favorite, not just because it tastes incredible to everyone who eats it, but also because the cook in the kitchen is one happy chef because since the recipe is so easy to pull together thanks to a stash of DeLallo ingredients in the pantry.
Once again this year I’ve partnered with DeLallo Foods to create easy, family-friendly recipes, and I gotta say, they’re all winners through and through. Creating recipes using DeLallo products is honestly one of the most fun parts of this job.
DeLallo has such a wide variety of high quality products to fill the pantry, it makes cooking for any of night of the week a whole lot simpler than one would expect.
What’s in This Baked Rigatoni Recipe?
This recipe uses DeLallo’s jarred pomodoro fresco marinara (you could choose one of their other flavors if you’d prefer), roasted red bell peppers, and obviously rigatoni noodles. DeLallo’s pasta is my favorite because its made with semolina pasta to create a toothy bite. The key to baked pasta is to undercook it when boiling it in the pasta water so it doesn’t get mushy as it bakes in the sauce.
Rigatoni is perfect for a chunky sausage sauce like this because the sausage sticks in all the nooks and crannies of the pasta. For this recipe, I used sweet Italian sausage and then gave it even a little more Italian oomph by cooking it with an extra dose of fennel seeds. The sauce gets a sweet bite with the addition of roasted red bell peppers.
Ah. Now that’s that way I like it.
Ricotta, Parmesan and provolone give this pasta it’s cheesy bite. Provolone gives an even better cheese pull than mozzarella and totally delivers in this recipe.
How to Make Baked Rigatoni
To make this Italian sausage pasta bake, you’ll first need to brown the sausage in a large saucepan alongside the fennel seeds. Throw in the onion and continue cooking until the onion is tender. Add the roasted red peppers and the marinara sauce and cook until warmed through.
In a separate bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmesan, and fresh parsley. Spoon half the rigatoni mixture into a large baking dish, then dollop half the ricotta mixture over top. Layer a few slices of Provolone over the ricotta, then repeat this process once more.
Bake the sausage rigatoni until golden on top and the cheese is bubbly.
Can I Use Another Ground Meat in This Baked Rigatoni?
Yes, but just keep in mind that if you use something other than Italian sausage in this recipe your dish won’t taste the same as mine. However, ground turkey, hamburger, or plain sausage can be used in place of the Italian sausage if desired.
Can I Add Other Veggies Into This Pasta Bake?
Most definitely! Garlic, mushrooms, and spinach would all be lovely additions to this sausage pasta bake. Just be careful not to add too many additional ingredients, otherwise your baked rigatoni won’t fit in one pan.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
Yes, any short, sturdy pasta will work in this sausage pasta bake. Think: penne, macaroni, and so on.
Can I Prep and Freeze This Baked Rigatoni for Later?
I haven’t frozen this Italian sausage pasta bake yet, but I believe it would work. You’d want to assemble it and then freeze before baking. When you’re ready to enjoy it, bake straight from the freezer at 350 degrees F for about 90 minutes.
What to Serve with Baked Rigatoni
While this sausage rigatoni bakes, you can whip up a simple side dish to accompany it. Here are a few sides that’d complement this dish perfectly:
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- Beet, Carrot, and Pomegranate Salad
- Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Chicken Caesar Salad
- Easy Green Beans with Brown Butter Almondine
- Grilled Asparagus
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Tips for Making Baked Rigatoni
For the best flavor, use whole fat ricotta and Provolone cheese in this baked rigatoni. The lower fat cheeses don’t hold a candle to the real deal.
I prefer using sweet Italian sausage in this sausage pasta bake, but you’re welcome to use hot Italian sausage if that’s what your family prefers.
I used a deeper casserole dish for my version of this easy pasta bake, but if you use a shallower baking pan, you’ll want to add a few additional slices of provolone than what I call for in the recipe so that the whole top is covered in cheesy goodness.
Want to see how to make this easy pasta bake? Check out the video below!
More Easy Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta
- Skillet Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas
- Homemade Pesto Pasta
Sausage and Cheese Baked Rigatoni
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 12 ounce jar DeLallo roasted red bell peppers
- 1 25 ounce jar DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco marinara sauce
- 1 16 ounce package DeLallo rigatoni
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
- 6-8 slices provolone cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 2 ½ or 3 quart baking dish with a drizzle of the olive oil.
- In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the sausage and the fennel seeds to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until browned. Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender. Add the roasted red peppers and the marinara sauce and cook for 3-5 minutes or until warmed through.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously season with kosher salt. Cook the rigatoni for 5 minutes. Add the rigatoni to the sauce and stir well to combine.
- In a large bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, parmesan and parsley.
- Layer half of the rigatoni and sauce in the baking dish. Dot half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta and layer 3-4 slices of provolone over the ricotta. Repeat with the remaining rigatoni and ricotta and top with 3-4 slices of provolone.
- Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
But Wait, There’s More
Looking for more dinner inspiration? Here’s a few to whet your whistle.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope this recipe gets you in the kitchen to make something good.
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This post is in partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. There may be affiliate links in this post of which I receive a small commission. All opinions are always my own.