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Baked Rigatoni With Red Peppers and Green Olives

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This baked pasta is based on my favorite pizza topping combination: peppers and olives. Here you build a tomato sauce bulked up with jarred roasted red peppers and studded with briny green olives, then toss it with tubular pasta and lots of mozzarella cheese that goes crisp on top and very cheesy-pully in the middle in the oven.

This recipe uses the same red pepper and olive sauce as my One-Pot Spiced Shrimp and Rice—to make both dishes, double the sauce before proceeding.

Ingredients :

Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 (16-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained, finely chopped (about 1¾ cups)
  • 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup green olives, smashed, pits removed
  • 2 Tbsp. double-concentrated tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • Pasta and assembly
  • 1 lb. rigatoni, penne, or ziti
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped oregano
  • 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated, divided
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces, divided
  • Handful torn basil leaves (for serving)

Sauce

Step 1

Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion is slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add roasted red peppers and salt; season with black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is jammy, 8–10 minutes. Add olives, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste is slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, and their liquid and cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

Pasta and assembly

Step 2

While sauce is cooking, place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (about 2 minute less than package directions; pasta will continue to cook in the oven). Drain pasta, reserving ⅓ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Step 3

Add pasta and reserved pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Reduce heat to medium and stir in butter, oregano, and half of Parmesan. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and glossy and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half of mozzarella.

Step 4

Transfer pasta to a 13×9″ baking dish and spread into an even layer. Scatter remaining Parmesan and mozzarella over. Bake until bubbling around the edges, 15–20 minutes.

Step 5

Heat broiler. Broil pasta until top is brown and crisp in spots, about 3 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then top with basil for serving.

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