Baked Rotini with Meat Sauce
There are very few meals that make this Italian girl as happy as pasta with homemade Marinara Sauce. I’m brought back to Friday night dinners at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. The entire family would come over and Grandma would make a huge pot of red sauce. We’d all gather around the big kitchen table and Grandpa would say a prayer and then we’d feast. The best stories were shared around that table. All of the ingredients for the meal were purchased at the local Italian Market and Grandpa would do the dishes after dinner. Some of my best childhood memories took place on Friday nights in that house.
One of the meals Grandma would prepare was homemade lasagna and although I love lasagna, it’s very time consuming and my Baked Rotini with Meat Sauce has the same flavors, but comes together a lot quicker. I always make a huge pot of Marinara Sauce in the crock pot and then freeze enough for future meals. Sadly, I never was able to get the recipe for Grandma’s red sauce, but over the years I have perfected my own recipe. It’s thick and rich and just gets better the longer it sits.
Here are some ideas of meals you can make with leftover marinara sauce:
- Chicken Parmesan
- Meatball Subs
- Spaghetti w/ Sausage or Meatballs
- Dipping Sauce for Bread Sticks
- French Bread Pizza
Because the sauce is made in advance, this recipe comes together very quickly and easily. Begin by browning a pound of lean ground beef in a deep skillet. Cook it until it’s still got a little pink in the middle, because it will continue to cook in the oven.
Italian sausage would also be delicious as well. You could also make a vegetarian version of this dish by omitting any meat.
Warm up the red sauce by adding it to the same skillet with the meat and just heat until the sauce has warmed through. Using a nice, deep skillet will allow enough room for the meat and sauce to warm together.
The cheese mixture is a very simple mixture of Ricotta cheese, eggs, parsley, black pepper and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. In addition to the rich red sauce, cheese is definitely the star of this Baked Rotini with Meat Sauce. Parmigiano-reggiano cheese is definitely worth the splurge. You can get a good deal buying it in bulk from Costco.
Boil the rotini until it’s just al dente (with a bite to it), as it will continue to cook in the oven and drain well. Now you’re ready for the layering process.
Add a generous layer of meat sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish, like this one that I love from the Pioneer Woman. It’s so pretty and super affordable! My hubby bought a set for me for Christmas and I just love them. Next, add a layer of pasta followed by the ricotta mixture and a layer of grated mozzarella cheese.
Continue layering until you’ve reached near the top of the pan then bake in the oven. Let cool slightly and top with fresh basil. I like a nice, crunchy coating of mozarella cheese, but if you want the cheese to be melted and soft rather than crunchy, you can cover the dish in tin foil before baking.
Look at that beautiful masterpiece! Baked Rotini w/ Meat Sauce can be made for a crowd and heats up really well for leftovers. Serve with a tossed salad and some warm bread. Don’t forget the vino!
Please let me know in the comments how the dish turned out for you if you make it at home and snap a photo and share it on Social Media using the hashtag #ketchumkitchen.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen, where everything, without exception, is made from the ♥