It’s stuffed with thick rigatoni pasta, a healthy amount of spinach, and vegetarian sausage chunks that taste good enough to make you forget about the real thing! It also doesn’t go too light on the cheese. Three kinds, in fact: mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan.
Served nestled in a rich and zesty tomato sauce, it makes an entire meal on its own. But feel free to add a salad and some bread! I had this with my Red Wine Focaccia and it was a perfect match.
Leftovers will be a little dry because the tomato sauce gets absorbed. I usually just spoon some extra jarred pasta sauce over top when I heat it back up. Or sometimes I double the tomato sauce in the recipe so I have plenty to serve on the side.
Perfect for Sunday dinner and guaranteed to fill the room with smiles!
Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Vegetarian Sausage
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
14 oz pkg Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style Veggie Protein
16 oz pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
15 oz container ricotta
8 oz pkg shredded mozzarella, about 2 cups
¼ cup Parmesan
16 oz box rigatoni or other thick, tubular pasta
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, thyme, sea salt, and crushed red pepper. Simmer at least an hour or longer, stirring occasionally.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. We’ll be preparing the vegetarian sausage according to my Veggie Sausage Crumbles recipe. Simply cut the sausage into small pieces and pan-fry in the hot oil until lightly browned. Remove and continue until all the sausage is cooked, adding more oil as needed.
Stir the veggie sausage into the sauce, cover, and cook 15 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Squeeze out excess moisture from the spinach and place in a medium bowl. Stir in 1½ cups of the mozzarella, the ricotta, and the Parmesan cheeses.
Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add the rigatoni and cook just to al dente, the least amount of minutes noted on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Add about half the sauce in the bowl with the spinach mixture. Mix this together, then stir in the pasta. Pour this into a lasagna pan or other large baking dish, about 11″x17″. Cover with the remaining sauce, reserving some for serving on the side if you like. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella on top.
Cover with foil and bake until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer until the cheese just starts to brown.