This would be the perfect dish for a party. Something like a Superbowl party. One of which we would have hosted if the Packers hadn’t given yesterday’s game away. Did any other Wisconsin fans have flashbacks to the Rose Bowl during the game?
On the bright side, caramelized onions + mozzarella cheese + pasta + meat sauce = brilliance. I can’t think of a single hearty dish that is more comforting than one filled with pasta an melted cheese that gets crispy around the edges. Can you?
So it is kind of a bummer that we won’t get to cheer our team on during the Superbowl. But perhaps we’ll have a party anyways, if only to spend time with friends and eat more baked rigatoni.
This recipe makes a lot of pasta. It is perfect for a party, or for weeks when you won't have time to cook most nights...as long as you're willing to have the same leftovers multiple times!
Adapted from Saveur: The New Comfort Food
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 3 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons basil, minced
- 1 1/2 pound rigatoni pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
- 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and toss to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions turn brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Increase the heat to medium. Add the beef to the pot and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the beef is browned on all sides. Pour the wine into the skillet and use the spoon to scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. When the wine has been reduced to a glaze, add the tomato sauce and garlic. Simmer for one hour.
- When the sauce has simmered and reduced for one hour, stir in the caramelized onions and minced basil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Toss the pasta with the tomato sauce.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour until it bubbles. Pour in the milk and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.
- In a large Dutch oven, layer half the pasta, then half the butter sauce, then the rest of the pasta and the rest of the butter sauce. Top with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead and Storage
To save yourself some time, caramelize the onions and make the meat sauce up to 3 days in advance. You can also shred the cheese ahead of time.
When you're ready to eat, just make the pasta and butter sauce, then layer as directed. You'll cut your prep and cook time down to 45 minutes.