Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baked Rigatoni

1 pound ground beef (I used ground round)
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 to 1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 jar your favorite marinara sauce + water to rinse out the jar
1 pound rigatoni
1 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small squares
Extra Parmesan cheese

Heat large pot of water to boiling, add a small amount of salt. Cook rigatoni noodles to al dente, drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, brown ground chuck, breaking into chunks, drain and rinse meat with water to remove extra fat. Set aside. In a small amount of olive oil, saute' green pepper, garlic and onion until tender. Add spices and cook a bit more until fragrant. Add marinara sauce and water and cooked ground chuck. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer.

While sauce is simmering, combine ricotta cheese, egg and 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese until well blended.

Place half the noodles in a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray (I use my Pampered Chef deep dish pan). Pour half the meat sauce on noodles and mix. Add half the ricotta cheese mixture and swirl. Add the rest of the noodles, sauce and ricotta cheese and swirl the cheese to spread throughout. Dot the top with the fresh mozzarella cheese squares. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and cover top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Allow to melt and allow to stand about 5-10 minutes to rest.

Serve with a large garden salad and bread sticks. Very easy and yummy!

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