This baked rigatoni is the perfect fill-in for when you can't decide between a bowl of pasta or lasagne. It meets in the middle with rigatoni tubes wrapped in a rich tomato sauce and a cheesy baked top.
- 375 g rigatoni
- 2-3 tbsp grated parmesan or pecorino
- 100 g dried mozzarella or scamorza, thickly sliced
- Small handful basil leaves, to serve
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 x 400 g cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 young celery stalk
- 1 small piece of capsicum
- Small handful basil or parsley leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 60 g butter
- 40 g (¼ cup) plain flour
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. For the sauce, heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and 200 ml water and bring to a simmer. Add the celery and capsicum, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste, then remove the celery stalk and capsicum.
2. Meanwhile, for the bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes or until well combined and thickened. whisk to incorporate it. Whisking continuously, add the milk, a little at a time until smooth and well combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg, then simmer for another 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 200˚C Bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil. Cook the rigatoni until three-quarters done, then drain and toss in the tomato sauce until well combined. Tumble half the rigatoni into a 30 cm x 40 cm baking dish. Top with dollops of bechamel, then cover with the remaining rigatoni. Top with more dollops of bechamel and a little grated parmesan or pecorino. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then top with the dried mozzarella on top and bake for another 3-5 minutes or until just melted. Serve hot scattered with basil leaves and a grind of black pepper.
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