The idea of using cottage cheese came from my mom, who use to make lasagna with cottage cheese because she couldn't find good ricotta. Although high-quality ricotta is easier to find these days, cottage cheese is still perfect for this baked pasta. The result is a creamy, moist, cheesy and really flavorful dish.
This baked rigatoni recipe also calls for fontina, instead of the typical mozzarella. Fontina tends to have more flavor, especially the high-quality Fontina D'Aosta sold in cheese shops, and is a little less gooey and stringy than mozzarella.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10
- 1 pound ziti or rigatoni pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces Italian sausage links, fully cooked or raw, cut into 1/2-inch slices (optional - this dish can also be vegetarian)
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 14 to 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 26 to 28 ounces finely chopped tomatoes (such as the brand Pomi)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 pound whole milk cottage cheese (ideally, small curd)
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring a few times, until pasta begins to soften but is not cooked all the way through, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain pasta.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch deep skillet or better yet a pot (less splattering of sauce). Add sausage and cook until nicely browned. Add garlic and saute less than a minute before adding tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano. Simmer rapidly for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in basil.
In a medium bowl whisk together cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of the Parmigano.
In a 13x9-inch baking dish, combine the pasta with the cottage cheese mixture. Stir well to combine. Add the mascarpone and 3/4 of the fontina cubes, again stirring well to coat all the noodles evenly.
Add 3 cups of the tomato sauce, stirring well to blend the sauce in.
Spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining fontina and remaining 1/2 cup Parmiginao over the top.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for another 40 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.
Cool for 25 minutes before serving.
© recipe 2012 Jennifer Meier licensed to About.com, Inc.
All About Fontina
There are typically two different types of Fontina sold. Most grocery stores carry a very mild, creamy and mass produced version of Fontina. Many cheese shops carry Fontina D'Aosta, a raw-milk cheese from the Valle d' Aosta region of Italy.
Fontina D'Aosta has a supple texture that melts well, a slightly funky aroma and a sweet grassy, earthy, herbal flavor.
What is the Difference Between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan?
True Parmigiano-Reggiano is made only in certain regions of Italy according to strict DOC laws.
Parmesan refers to cheeses that are made in a similar style, but aren't true Parmigiano-Reggiano. In Italy, these cheeses are called "grana". High-quality versions of grana cheeses, such as Grana Padano, can be found at most stores.
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