When my cousin showed me a photo of this impressive-looking dish, I knew I had to figure out a way to replicate it. It’s the ideal way to make pasta look fancy without a whole lot of fuss. In fact, it would be the perfect thing to serve at a kids’ birthday party, because almost every kid I’ve ever met loves pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese.
I was a little nervous about how the pasta pie would hold together when I removed the springform pan’s outer collar, but fear not, it was a breeze and served up just beautifully. I’ll be making this over and over again.
Cook the Rigatoni in a very large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook until just barely al dente (the noodles need to still be firm enough to stand up in the springform pan. Drain the pasta.
Return the pasta to the empty cooking pot and toss with half the olive oil to prevent it from sticking. Set aside.
Have your pasta sauce at room temperature or warm, but not cold or hot.
Mix together the Ricotta, egg and pepper until well blended.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Grease a 9 inch springform pan with the remaining olive oil.
Take the cooked rigatoni and stand each piece up on its end in the pan. This is easiest if you pick up each noodle with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Continue until the whole pan is tightly packed.
Pour the Ricotta mixture over the rigatoni and spread evenly over all the noodles. Sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Pour 3 cups of the pasta sauce over top and spread evenly over the noodles. Use your finger to poke the meat and cheese mixture down into the noodles – this might seem a bit finicky but it’s really worthwhile. Trust me.
Put a tray (a pizza pan is ideal) on the lower rack of your oven to catch an olive oil drips that come out of the springform pan.
Place the noodle dish on the rack above, in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400F.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes at 400F.
Let stand for 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of the pan to help remove the collar of the springform pan. Slice into wedges and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce (warmed) at the table to drizzle over each piece.
Makes 8 servings