With the enthusiasm my children showed for this recipe, you would have thought I reinvented the wheel. I guess rigatoni standing at attention has a way of impressing children?
It is kind of cool. Leave it to Martha to come up with another bang-buster of an idea to get my house in a tizzy.
The key to this recipe, as far as taste goes, is using quality ingredients. Good quality pasta, cheese and ESPECIALLY crushed tomatoes. I really like the brand, Muir Glen, as far as canned tomatoes go. If you cannot find high quality crushed tomatoes, buy canned whole tomatoes instead, crushing them yourself. Whole tomatoes must meet a higher standard at the processing plant, therefore taste better.
Your family is going to love this when you place it on the table on a cake pedestal with garlic bread and a salad. It's different and fun.
Let's put this together:
You will need: Crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella.
Ground beef, rigatoni pasta, olive oil, butter, salt and pepper are also needed.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook 1 pound rigatoni pasta until slightly underdone (I cooked mine for 12 minutes when the box indicated 14 minutes). One pound of pasta should be cooked in 6 quarts of water, make sure you are using a big enough pot so the pasta doesn't stick together. When done, rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 Tablespoon olive oil to coat. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Cook 2 minutes more.
Add 1 can good quality (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Toss pasta with 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end.
Spread meat sauce on top of pasta.
Push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up. Stuffing the meat into the holes is a weirdly satisfying task. Enough said. But seriously, this can be time consuming, but worth it. Use a skewer if it makes it easier.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle 8 ounces mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden.
Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold.
Can you see the two craters? That's what will happen if you don't get meat into the hole. I think it looks cool.
Cut into wedges and serve with any remaining meat sauce you might have.
This stays together well and slices perfectly.
Where ever you decide to cut, each of the pasta pockets are filled with meat.
It also has a nice cheese crust. You will love this even though it's just pasta...the presentation makes it special.
Other pasta recipes you might enjoy:
Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes
Greek Chicken Pasta
5-Minute No Cook Pasta Sauce
Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells
Homemade Microwave Lasagna
Spaghetti with Bacon and Eggs
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