This is my "go-to" casserole for potlucks, for suppers for my husband's college students and for weekend company guests. It can be completely assembled in advance, serves a crowd and has bold, striking flavors. The name says it all--tube-shaped pasta are coated in a tomato sauce with an extra kick of heat from red pepper flakes, while creamy Havarti and Parmesan cheese add a luscious smoothness, and slivered olives provide a salty accent.
Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Make Ahead: Yes
Freeze: Yes, assemble and freeze before baking. Before freezing, cool completely and cover tightly with plastic wrap, and then with foil. Add a label with the name of the recipe and the date. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Preparation: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch or another shallow 3-quart baking dish.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, dried basil, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and the black pepper and stir well. Add the chicken broth and bring to a low boil.
Cook until the liquid has reduced and the mixture is chunky, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste, and season with more salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before using.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rigatoni and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook according to the package directions. Drain well in a colander. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil; season with more salt if needed. Add the warm tomato sauce to the pasta and toss well to combine. Add the Havarti and toss again. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Arrange the olives over the pasta. (The casserole can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking.)
Bake the casserole, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the fresh basil before serving.
Cooking Tip: If you want to make this dish strictly vegetarian, substitute a good vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
Betty Rosbottom has been a cooking teacher, syndicated columnist, PBS host and cookbook author for two decades. In addition to Sunday Casseroles, she has authored Sunday Brunch, Sunday Roasts, Sunday Soups, The Big Book of Backyard Cooking and Coffee (all published by Chronicle Books). She lives part-time in Amherst, MA and Paris, France.
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Penned: September 2014
What's Inside: 60 comforting casserole recipes using fresh, whole ingredients - no processed foods. Each of these hearty, one-dish creations is designed to look as appealing as it tastes.
You'll find everything from beautiful Sea Scallops Nestled in Piperade, an eye-catching mixture of bell peppers, tomatoes and onions, to creamy Baked Risotto with colorful chunks of butternut squash and prosciutto. Other instant favorites include Only Vegetables Moussaka, Individual Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheddar Gratins, and, of course, Mac and Cheese (traditional as well as with lobster or smoked sausage). Perfect for busy weekends, many of these family-pleasing recipes can be prepared ahead.
Time Out: 176 pages
Available: $24.95 where books are sold
Love casseroles? You'll also enjoy: