When it comes to hearty meals that please a crowd you can’t go wrong with a great pasta dish. This “fake bake” recipe from Rachel Ray gives the impression the casserole dish spent a lot of baking in the oven. But, the truth is that you only put it under the broiler just before serving to give that melted cheese texture on top that everyone loves.
The base of this dish is rigatoni and some Italian sausage. We’re using the individual sausages here, but if you prefer to use browned bulk sausage instead then that works, too.
The flavor of this recipe gets a big boost from some cubanelle peppers. These yummy peppers are somewhere in between a sweet bell pepper and a jalapeño. You only need one for the whole pan and while it doesn’t add a ton of heat, it does add a lot of flavor.
When I was reheating some leftovers of this dish the smell of the pepper was the first thing that hit me. Along with the bell pepper it really adds a lot of dimension to the dish overall.
You combine the cooked pasta with some fresh herbs and some ricotta cheese before layering it in the baking dish with the peppery sauce. Then add some parmesan on top and use that broiling trick for a “baked” pasta dish that tastes like it spent a lot of time in the oven, getting slow-baked. The reality is that it doesn’t take long to make this recipe at all.
The final result is rich, creamy, and full of fresh flavor from the herbs. Serve it with a salad and that’s your tasty dinner ready to go.
Rachel Ray's Italian "Fake Bake"
15m prep time
33m cook time
- 1 lb rigatoni
- 1 lb Italian sausages
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
- Add 1 inch water to large skillet or stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add sausages. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat. Once cooled slightly you can remove casings if desired. Slice sausages into disks.
- Add remaining oil to large skillet and heat over medium. Add peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook for 7 minutes over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add sausage disks and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Heavily salt pasta water then cook pasta to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Add stock and canned tomatoes to sausage and cook on a low boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add ricotta cheese, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to pasta. Stir well. Pour half the sauce into a 9"x13" baking dish, then top with pasta. Add remaining sauce and then top with parmesan. Place under broiler on low and bake until cheese melts and crisps around the edges, about 2 minutes. Serve with extra parmesan if desired.
Recipe adapted from Food Network.