Rigatoni Pasta Pie

Amongst the things I believe in most in life is the family meal.  It really is possible to be a modern working mom and still hold on to the old-fashioned notion that your family should sit down together at the end of the day to share dinner.

Now, I realize not all of us have a passion for cooking.  It’s not really the cooking that makes the family meal a special time.  That would be the togetherness, the reminder that we belong somewhere.  It’s the thought that we have a soft place to fall when the world is done beating us up for the day.  So, if your a mom that doesn’t want to spend her evening time cooking fancy meals, that’s perfectly ok.  Your children will grow up remembering that you sat down with them and asked about their day at least once a day for their whole lives, not that you went to the Taco Time drive through and came home with bean burritos.

If you are a mom or dad that likes to cook the way I do, I will share plenty of recipes with you on this blog that make family dinners doable in today’s crazy world.  If you are like me, you know that food can be such a gesture of love and acceptance.  It is life’s most basic way to nurture.

I came across this recipe via Pinterest on thenoblepig.com.  It’s a Martha Stewart recipe.  Love Martha, but I had to change this up a bit.  See, the first thing it said was that I had to “use the highest quality of ingredients” because it’s such a simple dish and all so each of those ingredients has to stand on it’s own.   Well, in my house we have one kind of ingredient and that’s cheap:


Have I made my point here?

So, this is my version and I hope you enjoy it:

Rigatoni Pasta Pie

Prep 45 min  Cook 30 min  Stand 10 min

Serves 6

1 lb Rigatoni Pasta (has to be rigatoni shape)

1 lb lean ground hamburger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 Cup grated parmesan (the kind in the can)

Olive oil

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

fresh parsley

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook the rigatoni according to package directions minus 2 min.  You want the pasta underdone.  Also, please heavily salt your water people-this is not the American Heart Association!  You want pasta that tastes like somethin’.

2.  Drain the pasta, give it a rinse in cold water.  Add it back to the pan and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil so it won’t stick.  I’ve asked you to rinse the pasta so it’s cool enough for you to handle with your fingers.

3.  Brown beef in a skillet.  Add the garlic and the crushed tomatoes and let simmer for 15 minutes.

4.  Now here is the magic.  Add the oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper to the sauce.  Taste.  Not perfect?  Add a little of whatever you think it’s missing and taste again and again until you get it right.  Don’t be shy with the sugar, but add a little at a time until you are tasting a perfectly harmonious sauce.  Sugar takes the edge off the acidity in super cheap tomatoes and gives them that cooked all day sort of taste.  The oregano adds depth of flavor.  Don’t have oregano?  Try Basil.  Leave your sauce to simmer on the stove.

5.  Spray a Springform pan with olive oil spray or use regular olive oil dabbed on a paper towel.  Add the cup of parmesan to your noodles.  I don’t measure in real life so I do something like this:


6.  Now, stir very gently so you don’t break these babies.  You are going to stand them all upright in the pan like so, starting with the outer edges:


If this excites you, you are now diagnosed with OCD, welcome to the club.


Remember that beautiful sauce you have simmering there at your side?


7.   Well, hello lovely.  Take this fragrant sauce and pour it over your pasta half at a time, pushing it gently down into the holes as much as you can while you go.


Place your pie into the oven for 20 minutes.

8.  Remove your pie and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for another ten minutes or so until that cheese is melty and golden.

9.  Remove your pie and add some hacked up fresh parsley to the top.


10.  Place your pie on a flat surface .  Let your pie stand for 10 minutes so it stays together.  Then, pop off the sides of your pan, to reveal your creation:


11.  Hear angels sing.

12.  Slice your pie with a sharp knife and serve.


I would suggest using a fork but Luke thought otherwise:


It got rave reviews.  I hope you enjoy this with your family soon.



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  5. Luke obviously loves it! So cute. I love your description of the importance of sitting down together as a family.

    • Thank you Ginny. Sometimes meal time is truly a challenge, but I think a worthwhile one. I bet you could make this pie vegetarian!

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