Italian cuisine: Celebrate Italian Cuisine in the World Week with Rigatoni al forno

Nov 18, 2022 707

November 14-20, 2022 has marked the 7th edition of La Settimana della Cucina Italiana nel Mondo or Italian Cuisine in the World Week. Few dishes are more emblematic of Italian cuisine than pasta and sauce recipes. One of the secrets to success is learning how to pair various pasta shapes with different sauces. You can learn my tips on my blog in a post called Best 3 Italian Pasta Recipes and Top Tips for Pairing Them or in my latest release Italian Recipes for Dummies. 

If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing dish to celebrate this special week, I recommend the following recipe which is perfect for Sunday Supper and special occasions. Watch this video to from Marra Forni to watch me make it step by step.

Rigatoni al forno/Baked Rigatoni with Besciamella and Meat Sauce





          *        1 pound rigatoni pasta

          *        1/4 cup butter, cubed

          *        Half recipe Salsa besciamella/Béchamel Sauce (see below)

          *        Half recipe Ragù alla Bolognese  (see below)

          *        1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Preheat home oven to 375 degrees, or heat Rotator to 800F degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, until very al dente (about 3 minutes less than if you were serving immediately). Drain.
  3. Grease a deep 9x13-inch baking dish (we used 8 – single serving cast iron skillets with the Rotator) with 1 cube of butter and spread a layer of the besciamella sauce on the bottom.
  4. Add a layer of rigatoni over the sauce, then a layer of ragù Bolognese, and a few tablespoons of cheese. Continue layering until all of the pasta and sauce are used up.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top, dot with remaining butter cubes, and place in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes ( we only needed 1 60-second rotation and 1 -30 second rotation – just 1 minute ½ are needed in The Rotator pizza oven) until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes and slice into large squares to serve.

NOTE: These types of dishes are synonymous with Sundays and special occasions in Italy, although, if served on a Wednesday night, that would make it a celebration, too!

VARY IT! You can use just one of the sauces in larger amounts, or swap out the rigatoni for ziti or penne, if you like in this filling dish. Some people like to layer their baked pasta dishes with vegetables or sliced hard-boiled eggs as well.

Salsa besciamella/Béchamel Sauce

You might be wondering how a French sauce ended up in an Italian recipe. The truth is that even though much of the world considers this to be a French sauce, it was actually introduced to France by Catherine de Medici of Florence, Italy, when she married Henri II. She was also the first to reveal Duck in Orange Sauce, crepes, and ice cream along with many other baking traditions and varieties of produce. For this reason, she is believed to have started the Grande Cuisine movement in France.





          *        3/4 cup butter

          *        3 tablespoons flour

          *        1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

          *        4 cups whole milk, preferably fresh, local, organic

          *        1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt


  1. In a small saucepan, add the butter and melt it over low heat.
  2. Add the flour, and whisk it in with the butter to combine.
  3. Allow to cook for 1 minute, or until slightly golden. Add the nutmeg, and whisk again.
  4. In another small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat.
  5. As soon as it boils, add it into the other saucepan and whisk well until you have a thick, creamy sauce. If the sauce needs to be thicker, continue to cook it over low heat for a few minutes until it thickens and set aside.

Ragù alla Bolognese/Bolognese-Style Meat Sauce

Several Italian regions have their own ragù or sugo di carne (meat sauce) recipes that were traditionally made on Sunday morning and enjoyed after families came home from church. Since the Catholic Church promoted abstaining from meat from Friday until after receiving the Eucharist on Sunday, a meat-based sauce was the ultimate feast-worthy meal to celebrate with.





          *        2 tablespoons Amy Riolo Selections or other good-quality extra virgin olive oil

          *        2 tablespoons butter

          *        1/4 cup diced yellow onion

          *        1/4 cup diced celery

          *        1/4 cup diced carrot

          *        1 1/2 pounds ground beef (try to avoid lean varieties), or veal (see Note)

          *        1 cup white wine

          *        4 cups tomato puree, preferably from San Marzano tomatoes

          *        1 cup beef stock, homemade if possible

          *        1 dried bay leaf

          *        1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, plus extra to taste

          *        1 cup whole milk

          *        Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the meat and stir, allowing to brown completely. Add the wine, and stir until wine is completely evaporated.
  3. Add the tomato puree, stock, bay leaf, and  1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  5. Add the milk, stir, and continue simmering for another 10 minutes.
  6. The sauce is ready when it reaches a thick consistency (it will have cooked down to about half of its original volume). Stir and add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Buon appetito a tutti!







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