I'm having a hard time writing this post right now because I already polished off the last of my most recent batch of this baked pasta and looking at these photos is making me want to make some more right now!
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This might possibly be the most comforting comfort food of all the comfort foods. I mean, we've got carbs, tons of cheese, and then it's baked to bubbly warm comforting comfort food perfection. Just look at it! It's basically a hug in a bowl. A cheesy hug (whatever that means). You should definitely change into sweatpants before digging into this. #comfort
The sauce for this baked pasta is super simple but don't worry, with the pancetta, mushrooms, and all that cheese, there will be plenty of flavor! Simple does NOT mean boring. Amiright?
Now, lets talk about the best part, the CHEESE! Grab a bag of Italian blend shredded cheese and one of those balls of fresh mozzarella and you're set. You're going to chop up half of the ball of fresh mozzarella and cut the other half into slices. The shredded cheese and the chopped mozzarella will get mixed into the pasta and then you'll lay the slices of the fresh mozzarella over the top before it goes into the oven.
The oven is where alllll the magic happens. For food, I mean. The cheese will get all melty and bubbly and the pasta edges will get nice and crispy. Change into your sweatpants, it's time to eat!
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Baked Rigatoni with Pancetta and Mushrooms
For the tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Cloves garlic minced
- 1 28 ounce Can crushed tomatoes
- 1 14 ounce Can cherry or roasted tomatoes
- 2 Sprigs fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta
- 1 Pound rigatoni
- 1 4 ounce package pancetta
- 2 Cups white or baby bella mushrooms roughly chopped
- 5 Sprigs fresh thyme minced
- 1 8 ounce Ball of fresh mozzarella Half chopped, Half sliced
- 2 Cups Italian blend shredded cheese
- Fresh basil chiffonade
- Kosher salt to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni to 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente.
- In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 Minutes and then the fresh basil.
- Meanwhile, In a pan, cook the pancetta until fat is rendered and pancetta is crispy. About 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta, place it in a bowl and set aside. Add the mushrooms and the thyme to the pan and cook in the rendered pancetta fat. About 5 minutes.
- Lay a thin layer of the sauce down in a baking dish. In a large bowl, mix the rigatoni, pancetta, mushrooms, cheese and the rest of the sauce. Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish and top with the slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake until cheese is bubbly and the pasta edges are crispy. About 30 minutes.
- Garnish with more fresh basil and enjoy immediately!