The Big Rig(atoni)

Dinner time always seems to be crazy at my house – with bed-times and a newborns’ feeding schedule – it’s hard to know if the timing will be just right for me to start dinner.  I LOVE making dinners that can be done ahead of time. That way I can find a chunk of time during my day to get it assembled and then simply turn on the oven in the evening and I have a wonderful homemade dinner waiting for my hubby when he walks in the door.

I don’t know about you, but my husband is always looking for meat at dinner time (I myself could probably be a vegetarian and never miss the meat).  It doesn’t matter how great something tastes – he is always looking for the meat.  So I came up with this recipe with my husband in mind:

The Big Rig(atoni)
Olive Oil
1 lb. hot italian sausage (5 links)
1 teaspoon. chopped garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil

Fill pot with water and bring to a boil – cook rigatoni according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat a thin layer of olive oil in a skillet.  Add hot italian sausage and saute until cooked through.  Remove sausage from pan and slice (1/2 inch slices).

Return sliced italian sausage to pan (do NOT remove oil from pan – this gives it tons of flavor).  Saute sausage until nicely golden (scrape up all the good bites from the bottom of the pan), add garlic and cook for 3 mins.  Then add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs (oregano, thyme, basil), salt and heavy cream – bring to a boil.  Allow the sauce to thicken (about 5-8 mins.).  Once thickened, toss sauce with cooked pasta and place in a 9×13 glass baking dish (I recommend spraying the baking dish with olive oil spray so pasta does not stick).  Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 mins. or until heated through.

Additional Info:  Can be assembled a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to bake (adjust baking time accordingly).

I love this olive oil cooking spray from Trader Joe’s:

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  1. Looking forward to leftovers tonight!

  2. Great recipe! I didn’t have any rigatoni, so I used ziti, instead! Also you might consider using bulk Italian sausage!