Believe it or not, this is now one of my “comes together fast and is worthy of serving to guests” presentation recipes…
It really does come together fast. It takes a little practice to get the shells stuffed, especially with just a ziplock bag. Would take half the time if you used a pastry bag and wide tip. But I am ahead of myself…
It really is easy, comes together fast and makes a great presentation…
Here’s what I did…
1 Box Rigatoni, cooked VERY al dente
some raw Spinach, washed, stems removed,
or 1 package of frozen cooked spinach (thawed)
1 pound spicy Italian Sausage, browned
1 tub of Ricotta Cheese
14 ounce jar of Marinara Sauce
1/2 pound of shredded Mozarella Cheese1/2 pound of sliced Mozzarella Cheese
Make do with what you have. The original version of this recipe calls for the meal to be made in a springform cake pan. So you build the layers from the bottom up. I do not have a springform cake pan here. I do have an odd shaped pan that is mostly flat on the bottom. But the sides do not easily remove like a springform pan. So, I decided to try an upside down cake, build the layers from the top up and flip when the cake is cooked.
Put your rigatoni on to boil. This is important, you want the pasta underdone. The box says 10-12 minutes. I cooked mine only 6 minutes. It was perfect for what I wanted, which was cooked pasta, but still retains it’s shape. You will see why in a minute…
Meanwhile, I browned the sausage, and layered the bottom of my pan with the sausage. I added a thick layer of spinach (it will cook down thin when the cake is done).
Next stand up the barely cooked rigatoni.
Next up, you want to stuff the shells with the ricotta cheese. Using a pastry bag with a long tip would work great. My pastry bag with long tip is in Kansas. I put the cheese is a ziplock bag, cut just a tiny end of one corner and squeezed a bit into each shell. Worked fine.
Next, I added a layer of Mozzarella Cheese. This layer of cheese will hold the whole thing together when it cools, and is very important. Be sure to put a good bit around the edges.
Add the Marinara Sauce over the top and spread it around. As the cake cooks, the sauce will blend into the ricotta cheese and ooze into the shells nicely.
Pop this into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
The grease from the sausage will keep it from sticking, but the sides need to have a knife sliced around the sides so it pops out easily…
Put a plate on it, flip over and viola!
I did add at least 1/2 a pound of Mozzarella Cheese, and pop that under the broiler till the cheese melted and browned nicely.
Slices like a cake… Almost like a lasagne cake!
Dave here from MY YEAR ON THE GRILL. It really is just this easy!
… I CAN COOK THAT!
And so can you!