a cheesy, comforting baked rigatoni full of italian sausage, burst cherry tomatoes, garlic, spinach, marinara, and lots of mozzarella cheese
1 lb mild italian sausage links
1 tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil
1 lb rigatoni
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp ground oregano
¼ lb (or 2 large handfuls) fresh spinach
1 (24oz) jar (about 2 ½ cups) marinara sauce
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ lb shredded mozzarella cheese
½ lb fresh mozzarella cheese, drained + sliced ¼”
garnishes: chopped parsley + more grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the sausage links on a sheet pan and drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil. Coat well. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer the sausage to a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, slice the sausage into ¼” pieces.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a generous pinch of salt. Once boiling, drop the rigatoni. Stir well and cook for 1 minute less than the package’s instructions.
Simultaneously, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot oven over medium-high heat. Add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes until the tomatoes burst open and release some juice. Stir in the garlic and oregano.
Add the spinach and let wilt slightly. Stir in the marinara sauce, along with the sliced sausage. Retrieve a ½ cup of pasta water from the pot and add it to the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in the parmesan cheese and let melt.
Drain the pasta when it’s done and add it right to the sauce. Stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so until the sauce clings to the pasta.
Grease a large 10x14x3” baking dish with olive oil. Pour in half of the pasta. Top with half of the shredded mozzarella. Pour in the remaining pasta. Top with the sliced fresh mozzarella and remaining shredded mozzarella. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Broil on high for 1-2 more minutes until golden.
Serve with a pinch of fresh parsley and grated parmesan over top.