Baked Rigatoni with Zucchini is a delightful Italian pasta that is delicious to eat and fun to make too!
If you happen to have lots of zucchini on your hands this summer, invite family and friends over to help you make this recipe and enjoy this fabulous summer pasta made for sharing.
This recipe starts out with a quick saute of onion and then the zucchini, but what makes it fun is the addition of the tomatoes. You’ll empty a 28oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes into a large bowl, then stick your hand in (or invite the kids’s to use their hands) and start squishing them! Yes it sounds weird and maybe creepy…but it’s really fun! Crush up the whole can of tomatoes with your bare hand. Somehow this makes me feel like a kid again. Playing in the mud and getting messy…with no care in the world…except catching the ice cream truck…oh summertime fun…
You’ll need a fair amount of fresh large leaf basil for this recipe, about a cup. If you read my last post you’ll know how much I love fresh herbs, and I won’t get on my soap box this time. Most grocery stores will carry a carton of fresh basil~ use this if you don’t grow your own or have a handy dandy farmers market nearby. Oh how I love fresh basil! I love the way my fingers smell after picking off a few leaves. Mmmmm!
I found the use of Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses were a nice change from the usual Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese most think of when cooking Italian fare. They can be a bit difficult to find~ check the specialty cheese isle. If you can’t find one or the other, substitute another Italian hard cheese. Just make sure you use two different kinds, it really helps to add depth of flavors to this dish.
I hope you enjoy it along with the special people in your life. That’s true Italian cooking!
Rigatoni and zucchini baked in an herb tomato sauce topped with a combination of Italian cheeses. Perfect for a hungry crowd or large family dinner.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 2 tablespoons for the pot of water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 lb medium zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta
- 8 oz Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- Set your oven to heat to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding the salt. In a 12″ inch skillet with deep sides, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened and just starting to brown. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes or it begins to soften. in the meantime, pour the can of tomatoes into a mixing bowl and crush by hand. Save the can.
- Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the red pepper flakes to the skillet and stir for about 30 seconds then add the crushed tomatoes to the skillet, filling the empty can with water and pour into the skillet as well. Bring the sauce to boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Don’t let the zucchini over cook and fall apart.
- While the sauce is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and add to the skillet. The sauce should be about done at this point. It’s okay if it needs to cook for one to two minutes more with the pasta in it to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the basil.
- Spray a 9 X 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Ladle one half of the contents of the skillet into the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheeses onto the top. Ladle the second half of the pasta and sauce into the pan and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until brown and bubbly.
- Serve. Sprinkle individual servings with additional cheese if any is left over.
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Italian
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