Spiced Pork & Baked Rigatoni Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella & Spinach Salad

Spiced Pork & Baked Rigatoni Pasta

with Fresh Mozzarella & Spinach Salad

40 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

In this recipe, we’re making a rich and hearty meat sauce with ground pork, hand-crushed tomatoes and classic Italian spices. (Be gentle when you crush the tomatoes! Their juices may spray.) We’re mixing our sauce with chewy rigatoni pasta, topping it with silky mozzarella cheese and baking it all in the oven until the top crisps up and the flavors meld to perfection. A simple spinach and cucumber salad on the side brings color and balance to this robust meal.

See Plans
  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    700 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Cook the pasta:
1 Cook the pasta:

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the pasta. Cook 9 to 11 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Drain thoroughly and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Rinse and dry the pot.

Prepare the ingredients:
2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the pasta cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Tear the mozzarella cheese into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds. Place the tomatoes in a bowl; gently break apart with your hands.

Start the sauce:
3 Start the sauce:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the ground pork and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pork is lightly browned and cooked through. Carefully drain off and discard any drippings from the pot.

Finish the sauce:
4 Finish the sauce:

Add the tomatoes to the pot; cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble & bake the pasta:
5 Assemble & bake the pasta:

Add the cooked pasta to the pot of finished sauce; stir to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. Evenly top with the cheese; season with salt and pepper. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until slightly crispy on top and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

Make the salad & serve your dish:
6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the pasta bakes, in a small bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the spinach, cucumber and enough of the vinaigrette to coat the salad (you may have extra vinaigrette). Toss to mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the baked pasta. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Cook the pasta:

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the pasta. Cook 9 to 11 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Drain thoroughly and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Rinse and dry the pot.

2 Prepare the ingredients:

While the pasta cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Tear the mozzarella cheese into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds. Place the tomatoes in a bowl; gently break apart with your hands.

Start the sauce:
3 Start the sauce:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the ground pork and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pork is lightly browned and cooked through. Carefully drain off and discard any drippings from the pot.

4 Finish the sauce:

Add the tomatoes to the pot; cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finish the sauce:
Assemble & bake the pasta:
5 Assemble & bake the pasta:

Add the cooked pasta to the pot of finished sauce; stir to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. Evenly top with the cheese; season with salt and pepper. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until slightly crispy on top and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the pasta bakes, in a small bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the spinach, cucumber and enough of the vinaigrette to coat the salad (you may have extra vinaigrette). Toss to mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the baked pasta. Enjoy!

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