Enjoy Rach’s version of one of her mom’s favorite recipes! A no-fail dinner is guaranteed with this pasta bake of a mixture of ricotta, parm and peas tossed with rigatoni and tomato sauce.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (32 ounces)
- 1 small onion, peeled and halved
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups fresh sheep’s milk or cow’s milk ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into fine dice, divided
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- 1 pound rigatoni, regular or whole wheat
- 1/2 cup shelled spring peas, par-boiled 3-4 minutes (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
In a small saucepot , heat the EVOO over medium to medium-high heat. Add the butter and melt. When it starts to foam, add the garlic, stir for a minute and add the tomatoes, mashing them up. Add the onion, basil and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper; simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Remove the onion.
Bring a pot  of water to a boil for the pasta.
Combine the ricotta with salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, mint, lemon zest, half the mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano Reggiano.
Salt the pasta water. Boil the rigatoni for about 7-8 minutes, under-cooking it a minute or so from al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot . Stir in the ricotta mixture and the peas, adding the starchy cooking water to combine, as needed. Transfer to a baking dish.
Pour the red sauce evenly over top of the pasta in the baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Bake until bubbly and the cheese is browned, 15-18 minutes – be careful not to dry the pasta out!
This is one of many “Yum-o!” recipes – it’s good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael’s nonprofit organization, visit