breaking bread is a universal ritual that brings us together. a good meal has the power to heal us, body and soul. all my cooking comes from the heart.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

baked rigatoni

This baked rigatoni is a great contribution for potlucks, freezes well, and is easier on your waistline than your taste buds would think.


1 16 oz box rigatoni (penne or ziti will also work well) (calories: 1600)
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped (calories: 50)
4 tbsp garlic, finely chopped (calories: 51)
2 tbsp olive oil (calories: 239)
1.5 lbs ground chuck (calories: 1680)
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (calories: 420)
2 medium zucchini, cut in half-rounds (calories: 63)
1 medium eggplant, cubed (calories: 132)
1 orange bell pepper, chopped (calories: 46)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (calories: 10)
3 oz red wine (calories: 60) (a little extra wine never really hurts...)
2 tsp dried basil (to taste)
1 tbsp dried oregano (to taste--I love oregano!)
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
4 cups shredded mozzarella (calories:1280)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (calories: 166)
14 oz part-skim ricotta (calories: 637)

Serves 12; (Total calories, 6434; calories per serving, 536)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and sauté chopped onion until translucent. (A 3 quart pot was full to the brim with this recipe, so if you have a 4 quart or larger pot that would be preferred.) Add chopped garlic and sauté on low a couple of minutes, taking care not to brown the garlic. Add ground beef (I used chuck here but one can try a lower-fat option such as ground sirloin, or spice things up with some sausage as well) and brown, breaking up and stirring frequently. Once the meat is browned, add canned crushed tomatoes, chopped orange bell pepper (or yellow, red, or green if you prefer), basil, oregano, fresh ground pepper, kosher salt, balsamic vinegar, and wine. Simmer on low.

Cook the pasta 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. If you already prepped the zucchini and eggplant go ahead and add them to the sauce, otherwise, prep them while the pasta is cooking and then stir into the sauce. Drain pasta and place in very large mixing bowl. Pour sauce over pasta and stir thoroughly. This recipe will fill two approximately 13" x 9" lasagna bakers. (I prefer Le Creuset-type stoneware, but a glass Pyrex will work fine, too.) Ladle a shallow layer of pasta/sauce mixture into each lasagna pan/casserole dish. Place scoops of ricotta evenly (see photo below), sprinkle half the shredded parmesan on each, then sprinkle each with 1 cup mozzarella. Ladle remaining pasta/sauce mixture into each dish and top with remaining mozzarella. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 1 to 1.5 hours.