Slow cooker Cheesy 'Baked' Spinach and Mozzarella Rigatoni will fool even an Italian nonna
That said, a few months ago I brushed the dust off my slow cooker and am pleased to say that I have stumbled across a number of dinner hits. I've had fun cooking out of my comfort zone and learning along the way, and in the spirit of slow cooker week, I thought it would be fun to go beyond the stereotypical braise and stretch my sea legs.
I'd seen a few recipes for slow cooker "baked pasta" I was interested to try. The beauty of a such a casserole is in its simplicity. And while I have a super easy recipe that I already love, I wondered if the slow cooker could actually make it even easier. Turns out, yes it could. So if you hate doing dishes and have a little bit of time to burn, this version is definitely a winner. It requires absolutely zero prep with exponential results. (Unless you consider thawing spinach prep. If so, use fresh.)
My trick for a lovelier presentation (sorry, but serving anything out of a slow cooker just ain't pretty) is to transfer the pasta to an oven safe serving dish and finish it off in the oven. This gives it that signature cheesy "baked" crust and lets you bring it straight to the table. It's the best of both worlds!
CHEESY 'BAKED' SPINACH AND MOZZARELLA RIGATONI
SERVES: 6 to 8
Rinse and drain the rigatoni in cold water. In the bowl of the slow cooker combine the noodles, tomato sauce, cottage cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, spinach, garlic, olive oil, salt, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Stir to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 3 1/2 hours, until pasta is tender. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover and cook on high until cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. (If making in advance or serving for company, transfer cooked noodles to an oven-proof serving dish, top with the remaining cheese, and finish in a 400 F oven until cheese is melted and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.)
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To comment, please click here.
Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor for free? Let us know by clicking here.
(Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)