Vesuvius Rigatoni

vesuvius-rigatoni
I have not had a food crush like this in a while. I was watching a tv show about Italian street food and saw this dish and cooked it the next day. I even found a recipe for it online in Italian and translated it to English to find out what exactly was in this dish. I didn’t make the recommended sauces for it (in small part because I didn’t have tomatoes from the foothills of Mount Vesuvius) so I topped it with Julie’s Pasta Sauce. Also, they originally baked these at 300 degrees in aluminum tins lined with plastic wrap but I just used a 6-count nonstick muffin tin instead and it worked great. I’m still very unsure about the whole plastic-wrap-in-the-oven-thing. I tried researching the details about such a thing with inconclusive results. Ok, back to the fun part. To make this dish you will need to dice up a log of fresh mozzarella, mix together grean peas and ricotta cheese (I ended up using about 8 oz.), make mini meatballs (I made simple mini turkey meatballs by combining 1lb. lean ground turkey, one egg, breadcrumbs to texture, garlic powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper), and boil large rigatoni pasta for 4 minutes. Trust the four minute cooking time and do not worry about stopping the cooking process of the pasta once drained. 4 minutes is perfect.

vesuvius-rigatoni2
Once you have everything you need to assemble this dish coat your muffin tin with some olive oil (mine is nonstick but I did this anyways). First, put a layer of mozzarella on the bottom and lightly pack it with your fingertips. Next, line the sides of the cups with your rigatoni so that they form a tightly packed ring. Fill the ring with the ricotta mixture and top with your meatballs. Cover the tops of the rings with the remaining mozzarella (I also added an Italian cheese blend on to simply because I had some in the fridge) and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. This was the timing and oven requirements from the recipe. However, I remembered that the tops were lightly browned on the show I was watching so I cranked up the heat in the oven and let the dish cook for about another 3 minutes until the tops were slightly browned. Finally, I let these rest for 5 minutes outside of the oven before extracting these precious little mountains of goodness with two forks. Oh yeah, and top them with your favorite red sauce. I actually don’t have words to explain to you how amazing this dish tasted. I had an incredible time making it. Honestly, the recipe I found wasn’t super helpful in explaining it so it was a lot of guesswork that, ultimately, paid off big time.

Side note, apparently you can translate web pages in other languages into English all at once. Gar found that out after we had painstakingly translated individual sentences. Go us.

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