Sometimes you just really hit one outta the park! This Baked Rigatoni Jack is exactly that. It may sound like an odd combination – zucchini, ground beef, pepper jack cheese and pasta – but it works, for real. This time of year in the Pacific Northwest, everyone had zucchini and summer squash coming out of their ears. And they are trying to drop them on neighbors porches and leave them on the table at work to get ride of them. So I wanted to come up with a little different way to cook them than yet another zucchini muffin!
Whenever I bake a casserole with pasta in it, I like to do a quick parboil on it. This gets the pasta going so that it doesn’t have to “come up” to temperature and then cook in the oven. But I don’t like to cook them all the way through because then it gets mushy. So I parboil for half the cooking time listed on the package. Then I make sure to add a little extra liquid (usually broth) and cover it with foil for the first portion of cooking. This helps keep the steam in so the pasta cooks through and gives the pasta extra flavor from cooking in the broth instead of water.
You’ll notice that I didn’t add a lot of extra flavor other than the pepper jack cheese. That’s because the cheese has a great salt quality and it gives the kick of the peppers – so you really don’t need much more. And it melts together with the cream cheese to make a nice sauce on the dish. One note on the squash and zucchini – make sure that you cut the pieces to all approximately the same size – which should be roughly the size of a piece of the pasta. This helps it all to cook evenly.
Now Let’s Get Cookin’!
Baked Rigatoni Jack
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- ½ Sweet Onion diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 tbsp Avocado Oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 lb Rigatoni Pasta
- 1 qt Beef Broth
- 8 oz Cream Cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Zucchini halved & sliced
- 1 Summer Squash halved & sliced
- 3 cups Pepper Jack Cheese shredded & divided
- Prepare all of the ingredients. Boil Water for Pasta. Preheat oven to 400deg.
- In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes then add ground beef, salt and parsley. Crumble and cook for 8 minutes.
- Add rigatoni to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to 13×9 baking dish.
- Add beef broth, cream cheese, 2 cups pepper jack, zucchini, squash, and beef mixture to baking dish. Stir to combine. Cover with foil and place in oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook another 10 minutes.
Estelle Forrest self-published this cookbook after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:
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