Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce
Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

When you think baked pasta dishes, or pasta al forno, usually lasagne comes to mind as the king! Or maybe mac and cheese if you are so inclined and living that all-American lifestyle. But another one that we love is a baked ziti or rigatoni! And this Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce will quickly climb your list of favorite pasta al forno dishes!

The Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

This is one of our newer tomato-based sauces that includes roasted bell pepper, Italian sausage, and ground beef, and various herbs among other things. Sauces with roasted pepper are a bit sweeter than tomato sauces without them and have a distinctive, yet subtle, flavor setting them apart. This flavorful sauce is perfect for using in a baked pasta dish or as a standalone pasta sauce for your favorite noodle.

Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

Layering 3 Cheeses

The cheese really adds that wonderful flavor throughout, and we think these three cheeses are the best choices. While lasagne will often have a béchamel sauce and/or ricotta cheese, this dish does not. Or at least our version doesn’t!

Using the combination of provolone, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses layered throughout the sauce and rigatoni results in delicious cheesy bites every time. Also, the cheeses used here allow the pasta and sauce to be more prevalent in the flavor profile than lasagne.


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce. If you give it a try, leave us a comment below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce
Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

Looking for more recipes like this? Check these out:

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If you want even more Italian-inspired recipes, check out our cookbook, Mangiamo, filled with 60 original recipes!

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Mangiamo, the cookbook

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Baked Rigatoni with Tomato Herb Meat Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Course: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time






  • For the Sauce
  • 1 large 1 red bell pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 olive oil

  • 1 lb 1 ground beef

  • 12 oz 12 Italian sausage

  • 1 small 1 onion – small dice (about 230g or 2 cups)

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 56 oz 56 (2 can) tomato puree

  • ¾ cup dry red wine

  • 1 tsp 1 sugar

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dried oregano

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dried basil

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dried thyme

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dried parsley

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dried marjoram

  • 2 Tbsp 2 kosher salt

  • 1 tsp 1 red pepper flakes

  • 2 Tbsp 2 chopped fresh basil

  • 2 Tbsp 2 chopped fresh oregano

  • Other Ingredients
  • 1 lb 1 rigatoni or other dried, tubed pasta of similar size (like penne or ziti)

  • 1 cup 1 grated provolone cheese

  • 8 oz 8 torn mozzarella

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

  • Fresh basil


  • Make the Sauce** (Can be made in advance)
  • The first thing to do is to roast the bell pepper. Cut your bell pepper into strips about 1 inch wide, removing the seeds as you go. Make sure the pepper is dry and put the slices on a small, foiled baking sheet, skin side up. Broil until the skin is very blistered and blackened. Remove to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and wait about 10 minutes before removing the skin. Dice the prepared pepper and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the beef and sausage and brown over medium-high heat. Remove the meat to a larger pot that you will cook the sauce in. Turn the skillet to medium heat and add the onion, cooking until translucent. Add the tomato paste for about 30 seconds, then transfer the entire contents to the pot with the meat.
  • Next, add the roasted bell pepper, tomato puree, wine, sugar, all dried herbs, salt, and red pepper flakes to the pot and bring just to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and oregano and cook for 20 more minutes, covered.
  • Prepare the Pasta
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few tablespoons of kosher salt and stir – the water should taste like the ocean. Add your pasta to the water and cook 60-70% of the recommended al-dente cooking time on the packaging. For ours, it’s about 7 minutes.
  • While your pasta partially cooks, add about a cup of sauce to a large mixing bowl. Remove the pasta from the water and drain, then add it to the mixing bowl with the sauce to coat. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t stick together.
  • Bake the Dish
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F
  • Put a layer of meat sauce in a casserole dish (about 9×12) or large, high-walled oven-safe pan. Add half of your sauce coated pasta to the dish. Add a layer of sauce followed by half of the provolone, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta and another layer of sauce on top of the pasta and cover with the remaining provolone, mozzarella, and all the Parmesan.
  • Bake, uncovered for about 50 minutes, or until bubbling nearer to the center and the cheese on top has melted and started to brown slightly.
  • Serve with additional grated Parmesan, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes, if desired.


  • The sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a few days prior to making your Baked Rigatoni. Additionally, you can make the sauce and freeze it, then defrost completely and heat gently in saucepan when ready to use.
  • If you have extra sauce, use it when reheating leftovers as baked pasta dishes tend to get drier as leftovers (but are just as good).

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