I make this Mushroom Bolognese Sauce all the time. Usually with Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, or some other wide pasta shape suitable for a thick and hearty sauce like this. The combo of beef and mushrooms in an herby tomato sauce is out of this world good. It’s an easy recipe that is fun to make together and just hang out in the kitchen, listen to good music, talk, share a glass of wine, and just relax cooking.
However, today was different, this time I was craving a cheesy baked pasta casserole. I like making Lasagna but for me, it’s a little bit of a hassle. I wanted something with all the same ingredients as a Lasagna but with half the effort. That’s why I decided (actually, WE compromised, ha!) on Baked Rigatoni with a Beefy Mushroom Bolognese.
Baked Rigatoni is ideal, once the pasta is al dente, toss it in the sauce, and then it’s simply two layers of pasta with cheeses in between and on top. The recipe has all the classic flavors of Lasagna, in a large casserole with plenty of leftovers, and a minimum amount of work. And by ‘work’ I mean hanging out in the kitchen with my partner sharing a glass of wine and enjoying the aroma of this amazing sauce.
The grocery store is still a little bit chaotic with the panic-induced food shortage of COVID-19. But they had almost all of the ingredients I needed to make this Baked Rigatoni, with the exception of ricotta cheese.
Luckily, I know how to, and make excellent ricotta and did a blog post with my recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese. I highly recommend making your own, it’s really easy and the difference in flavor is like night and day. Homemade Ricotta is by far a creamier, more delicious cheese than the stale prepackaged stuff from the store.
Three kinds of cheese
The combination of fresh Homemade Ricotta, good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mozzarella is a gooey, melty, cheesy delight! Serious though, I’m not sure how else to put it. But if you’re going to make a baked pasta casserole, isn’t “gooey, melty, cheesy delight” the description you’re looking for?
Here is my recipe for Baked Rigatoni with a Beefy Mushroom Bolognese
Baked Rigatoni with a Beefy Mushroom Bolognese
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Pound Cremini Mushrooms Sliced
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 1 Cup Onions Finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic Crushed and chopped
- 1/2 Cup Carrots Finely shredded
- 1/4 Cup Celery Finely shredded
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
- 1 28-Ounce Can San Marzano Tomatoes Crushed
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 Pound Rigatoni Cooked al dente
- 1 Egg
- 1 Recipe Ricotta Cheese Approximately 1 1/4 cups
- 2 Cups Low-Moisture Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
- 1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Grated
- Flat-Leaf Parsley Chopped
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and mushrooms, sautee until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
- Add the ground beef, onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until beef is nicely browned. Mound everything up on one side to clear a spot on the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sautee for 1-minute. Add the tomatoes, 1-cup of water and the seasonings, stir to combine, bring to a low boil then reduce heat to low, cover.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Simmer the sauce covered for 30-minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adjust seasonings if desired.
- In a separate pot, bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Salted water should taste like the ocean. Cook pasta based on manufactures instructions for the minimum amount of time, al dente. When cooked, add pasta to the sauce, remove from the heat and stir to combine.
- In a large casserole dish, spoon in half of the pasta and sauce then spread evenly.
- In a bowl, scramble the egg, then combine Ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and the egg, mix to combine. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the pasta.
- Add the remaining pasta evenly to the casserole dish, then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Bake for approximately 30-minutes, until the top of the mozzarella, is melted and starting to brown. Serve hot.