One pound rigatoni
Olive oilOne pound ground beef
Two garlic cloves, crushed
One-quarter teaspoon freshly ground pepper
One can (28 ounces) good quality crushed tomatoes, or equivalent amount tomato sauceSalt
One cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Eight ounces coarsely grated mozzarella
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone. Use a little olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. When done, drain the pasta and rinse with cool water. Toss pasta with parmesan cheese and set aside. In a large skillet, cook the beef over medium-high heat until brown. Drain the fat, add the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. (I tossed in just a pinch of oregano, basil, and fennel, also.)
Add tomato product and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Coat a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray or butter. Pack the pasta into the pan, standing each piece on end.Spread meat sauce on top of pasta. Push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up.Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold. Cut into wedges and serve.I think this is easiest when you have a lot of time to prepare. The meat sauce needs to cool since you're using your hands to stuff the noodles, and that takes awhile. I prepared the pasta while the meat cooked, and then did the dishes while I waited for the meat to cool. All in all, while you could certainly do it on a week night if you didn't mind eating a little later than normal, I think it's best to give yourself about an hour and a half to prepare this. Bonus: you can make this and refrigerate it overnight (make it Sunday afternoon and serve it for Monday dinner!) or cover and freeze it for a couple of days. If you freeze it, though, be sure to either thaw it before you stick it in the oven or adjust the bake time (I recommend thawing it).
Takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, plus bake time.
Difficulty: 3, but only because packing the pasta is a little tricky.