This pasta dish recipe makes comfort food that is easy to transport to a potluck dinner for six to eight people. It is easy to follow and features both vegetables and meat, for a hearty meal that everyone will enjoy! Those who do not eat red meat can substitute turkey or chicken meatballs instead of ground beef.
You will need:
• 1 pound rigatoni
• ¾ pound pancetta, diced and then browned
• 3 cups mild provolone cheese, shredded
• 1 cup green or black pitted olives, chopped
• 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
• 1 cup ricotta salata, grated
• 1 cup cooked meatballs, quartered
• 4 cloves garlic, sliced
• 4 large sprigs of basil
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and more for brushing
• 1 15-ounce and 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• Large pot
• Large skillet
• 3 or 4-quart baking dish
• Pastry brush
Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put water and some salt in the large pot and bring it to a boil on the stove. Cook rigatoni 2 to 3 minutes less than directed on the label, so it is very al dente. Drain the pasta.
Step 2: Put the olive oil into the skillet and heat it on medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook these until the garlic appears golden. Use your hands to crush the plum tomatoes into the skillet. Rinse each tomato can with ½ cup of water. Add this water to the skillet. Add basil and simmer about 15 minutes uncovered until the mixture thickens. Discard basil and season sauce with salt.
Step 3: Stir pancetta into the tomato sauce. Add the olives, red peppers, and meatballs.
Step 4: Brush olive oil into the baking dish with the pastry brush. Toss cooked pasta, sauce, and half of both kinds of cheese. Spread this mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Step 5: Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until browned. Let the pasta sit 15 minutes prior to serving.