Wish Upon A Dish: Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes ♥ Cooking for Two

December 16, 2013

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes ♥ Cooking for Two

I know it is hard to see, but under all that cheese is a beehive of stuffed rigatoni.
Why call it a cake then?

Well, I baked them in a cheesecake pan. I needed a pan whose sides were slightly higher than a piece of cooked rigatoni. Now I could have used a ramekin but I thought they were too small but as I ate the last bite, we both said the same thing. It was very filling. I was able to fit 20-21 stuffed cooked rigatoni into each pan and while it might seem skimpy, it was not.

Using a zip bag with a corner cut off, I stood the rigatoni in like little soldiers and squeezed the meat filling into each one. Was not hard, was not tedious and when the cheese crust is cracked open, there is a moment of "ohhhhh, sweet! This is cool" and then they dig their fork into the first rigatoni and find there is a meat sauce in each one and it then becomes "OMG, these are so good!"

Two things I should have done that I did not think about (but you will benefit from) is to add a spoonful of marinara sauce into each pan to help hold the pasta in place and to add additional tomato flavor to the pasta.
The meat sauce is the beef version of sausage and gravy but I used ground white meat turkey burgers that were on a Manager's Special and some veal stock for more meat flavor.

A spoonful or two of tomato sauce on top and two slices of melting mozzarella (from the deli) and into the oven for 20-25 minutes, then the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese, yummy!

Keeping with my pledge for no leftovers, these mini cheesecake pans have been getting a workout. I absolutely adore them and they have inspired a plan to cook up a whole new batch of two serving meals. You can easily double this recipe to make 4 servings.

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes
makes 2 (4") cakes
* 45 large rigatoni (not a ziti) (I like Barilla)
* 1 cup good quality spaghetti sauce
* 2 turkey burgers (1/2 pound ground)
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup cream
* salt, pepper and nutmeg
* 4 slices deli cut melting mozzarella cheese
* 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Equipment needed:
(2) 1 cup ramekins or (2) mini cheesecake pans
1 quart-sized zip bag
potato masher

Preheat the oven to 350°.
1. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes. We want it firm so it stands straight.
2. Fry the meat in olive oil, mashing with the potato masher until it is minced. Remember, it has to fit into the opening of the pasta.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the meat and saute for a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Simmer, covered until the meat is tender and when you run a spoon through it, you can see a ribbon of bare metal. The sauce is done so remove to cool.
4. Drain the pasta, spoon an inch of tomato sauce in each pan and stand the rigatoni side-by-side into each pan, making sure it is snug.
5. Put the meat sauce into the bag and squeeze down to one corner. Snip the corner so that it is slightly smaller than the opening in the pasta. Place the corner into a piece of pasta and gently squeeze enough mixture until it is level with the top. Continue with each one until filled.
6. Spoon a layer of tomato sauce on top, using the back of the spoon to spread it into any crevices or spaces, making sure to totally cover the pasta. Sprinkle the tops with grated cheese and two slices of mozzarella. Place in the oven, on a sheet pan, for 25-30 minutes. Can be made ahead up to this point.
7. Right before serving, place the pans under the broiler the cheese is browned and crunchy along the edges.

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