Stuffed Rigatoni Pie (Paccherri)
A classic baked pasta dinner transformed into a show stopping pie. Meat and cheese filled pasta baked in a vertical pattern with a saucy top and bottom. Pure comfort food if you ask me, also perfect for Sunday family dinner or dinner with friends. It takes a few extra steps to put together but they are pretty simple and worth the extra effort. Let’s talk a bit about each component.
Use the largest rigatoni shaped pasta you can find. The reason for this is so that it’s easier to pipe the ricotta mixture into them. The smaller they are the harder they will be to fill. I use paccheri pasta when I can find them but when I can’t get my hands on them I use manicotti shells and cook them the same way as directed in the recipe but I snip them in half and each manicotti becomes two pieces of pasta. I place the straight cut edges down on the pan and they sit up just beautifully.
The meat and cheese filling
Let’s start with the meat component. You can def use any ground meat you wish. The beef can be replaced with ground turkey or chicken and if you didn’t want the sausage you could substitute if for ground pork or leave it out all together and add ½ lb extra of whatever ground meat you are using. You can make this meatless by substituting the meat with chopped veggies. I like to use a chunky marinara with lots of chopped celery, carrots and sweet peppers. You can add some meatiness to the sauce by adding chopped mushrooms or eggplant and even cooked lentils or they’re are also plenty of recipes on line with vegan bolognese sauces that are made of torn tofu or even chopped walnuts.
When it comes to the ricotta mix it’s pretty standard but if you wanted to make it vegan you could make a simple cashew cream sauce made by blitzing soaked cashews with lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and nutritional yeast and thinned out with some water. You can use a shreddable vegan cheese to substitute the Parmesan and fontina and use a vegan pesto. You can leave the egg out too.
The spring form pan works perfectly when making this dish but a deep pie dish can also work. The springform pan makes for a fantastic unveiling so if you do have one I strongly recommend using it.
This is a fantastic meal to share with family and friends and a unique and delicious way to bake your pasta - you will love it!
- 1 lb of ground meat
- ½ lb Italian sausage - casings removed
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- ¼ tsp of chili pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup red wine
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leave
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb rigatoni Pacheri
- 15 oz container of ricotta
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp basil pesto store bought or homemade
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 cup grated fontina or alternatively Gouda
- ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese and extra for serving
- Torn basil for garnish and serving
- Grease a 9-10 inch springform pan, or a 9 inch deep-dish pie pan. If using a springform pan, make sure and wrap the outside in foil to avoid leakage when prepping and baking it.
- In a separate saucepan or skillet, add the ground beef, sausage, onions, chili flakes if using and garlic.
- Brown the meat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Once the meat is cooked and the onions have softened, add the wine and cook for a minute or two until wine has reduced.
- Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir and simmer on low while you cook the pasta and sauce has reduced and has thickened.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Cook noodles until a minute before al dente.
- Drain and spread out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to prevent them from sticking to each other.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, a few grates of fresh Parmesan and pesto with salt and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the grated mozzarella and the grated fontina.
- Assemble your pie by scooping 1 cup of the Bolognese on the bottom of your spring form pan to coat it.
- Next, stand your pasta upright in your pan, putting in as many of possible. They should stand upright and should be quite packed in.
- Put the ricotta mixture in the ziptop bag and cut a small hole in one corner.
- Pipe the ricotta filling into each one of the pasta tube about ½ way full.
- Next spoon some pasta sauce into or on top of the pasta (it will fill in the remaining space/gaps even if you spoon it on top and gently use a spatula to swirl it around).
- Add a little more sauce to cover. Then spread on the grated cheese mixture.
- Place the pie onto a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips). Spray or grease a piece of aluminum foil with baking spray and cover the pie, sprayed side down.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
- Uncover; bake 20 minutes longer or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
- Let stand for 15 minutes before running a knife around the outside edge and carefully unclip and remove the springform. It is very hot at this points and if you cut it too soon, it will fall apart on you; you need the cheese to set a bit.
- Move to a serving platter (you may or may not be able to get the bottom piece of the spring form off - I usually serve it it from the pan).
- Slice into wedges and serve.
Adapted from Martha Stewart