Baked Rigatoni Pasta with Red Wine Vegetables and Cream Sauce

This baked rigatoni pasta recipe is one of my favorite family meals! Fresh vegetables are cooked in a red wine reduction, then baked with tender noodles and a cheesy sauce. It’s an elegant dinner idea perfect for weekends and holidays alike.

I have been making this baked rigatoni recipe for well over 20 years and it’s one of my favorite dishes to make in late summer or early fall, when the garden is starting to wind down.

Fresh zucchini and tomatoes are simmered in a red wine reduction along with portobello mushrooms, sage, and thyme. Then all the tender veggies are tossed with cooked noodles and a generous amount of mozzarella. Parmesan cream sauce is the finishing touch before the dish is baked in the oven until bubbly.

This rigatoni recipe is a little “fancy” but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult. In fact, it is quite easy to make. Plus, there’s the added benefit of the ingredients only calling for 1/2 a cup of red wine. This means you’ll have the perfect excuse to pour yourself a glass! For this reason, I recommend using a good quality drinking wine. As in, get a bottle of your favorite red wine for this recipe. 🙂

A spoon with a scoop of baked rigatoni pasta with veggies and cheese

What Makes This Baked Rigatoni Recipe So Good?

There are many things to recommend this rigatoni pasta recipe, which is why I’ve been making it on the regular for so many years. It is:

  • Easy – Even though this recipe requires you to cook the veggies, noodles and make a cream sauce, each of these steps are quite simple. Everything is then tossed together and popped into the oven to bake.
  • Cheesy – Between the mozzarella cheese mixed in with the noodles and the Parmesan mixed in with the cream sauce, this baked pasta hits all the right notes when it comes to cheesy goodness!
  • Flexible – If you want to swap out the veggies or even the kinds of cheese, you can easily do so. I have provided notes in the “what you’ll need” section below.
  • Satisfying – This is a hearty pasta dinner that doesn’t need much else to complete the meal. I do often serve it with a bready side and a salad just because that’s my preference, but you don’t need to.
  • Elegant – You can make this pasta bake for a weekend supper or a holiday main dish. In fact, I often make this rigatoni recipe when we’re having a get-together as a vegetarian option. It is fancy enough for your vegetarian friends to feel like you made an effort for them (even though this recipe is actually quite easy!)
A plate with a generous serving of baked rigatoni pasta with veggies

What You’ll Need

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make this rigatoni pasta recipe, along with my notes as needed. Don’t forget to scroll down to the recipe card below for specific amounts.

For the Pasta

  • Butter – I recommend unsalted butter since we will be adding salt separately. Half of the butter will be used to grease the baking dish, and the other half will be melted and drizzled over the pasta halfway through baking.
  • Rigatoni pasta – Or any kind of larger tube-shaped pasta.
  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion – You can use an equal amount of shallots instead of you prefer.
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini – Other options include yellow squash, or peeled and very thinly sliced butternut squash.
  • Portobello mushrooms – I recommend using the large mushroom caps because they make a “meatier” addition to this pasta recipe. But if you can only find baby bellas, you can use those too. Rehydrated porcini mushrooms are also lovely in this rigatoni pasta recipe.
  • Celery stalks
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Dry herbs – Sage and thyme.
  • Red wine – I recommend using a wine that you also enjoy drinking from a glass. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I personally like Apothic Dark or Apothic Crush for this recipe.
  • Mozzarella cheese – Shredded mozzarella. You can use another kind of melty cheese if you prefer, though I usually stick with mozzarella.

For the cream sauce

  • Parmesan cheese – Shredded, not the powdered kind.
  • Heavy cream – If you really must, you can use milk instead. But since we are also drizzling melted butter over everything, why bother? Go all-in I say.
  • Eggs – At room temperature.
  • Dry sage
  • Salt and pepper
A baking dish with baked rigatoni and veggies

How to Make This Baked Rigatoni Pasta Recipe

  • Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to boil. Grease your baking dish with the 2 tablespoon of butter. Set aside. (I used a 10x10x4 inch corning-ware casserole dish. A dutch oven would also work nicely.)
  • Cook the veggies. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables have softened.
  • Finish the sauce. Add the tomatoes, thyme, sage and red wine. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Cook the pasta. When the water has come to a boil add a generous dash or two of salt. Cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, add it to the casserole dish, then add in the vegetables. Mix well.
  • Add some mozzarella. Sprinkle 2 cups of the mozzarella in with the pasta and mix well.
  • Make the creamy sauce. Whisk the Parmesan cheese with the cream and eggs, add the sage and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables.
  • Add the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the pasta.
  • Bake the pasta and add butter. Bake for 15 minutes, then drizzle the melted butter over the pasta. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pasta is bubbly. Allow the pasta to cool and set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

How Do I Know When the Liquid Has Reduced by Half?

A good way to judge whether the liquid has reduced by half is to stick the handle end of a wooden spoon into the pot just after the wine has been added. Now you have a visual measurement of how much liquid there was at the beginning. The mixture is done when the handle measures half of the original height.

A plate with a generous serving of baked rigatoni pasta with veggies

Serving Suggestions

I like to serve this pasta dinner with a bready side and a simple salad, but it is hearty enough to serve on its own. Some of my favorite pairings for this recipe are:

If you want to serve this pasta with drinks, I recommend glasses of the red wine used in the recipe. Or you could make Arnold Palmer drinks for the kids and John Daly drinks for the grown-ups.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

  • Storage: Let your pasta cool and then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 5 day days.
  • To reheat: Simply spoon the amount of pasta you want to eat onto a microwave-safe plate and zap it until warm. A single serving usually warms up in about 2 minutes. Make sure you spread the pasta out a bit on your plate or stir it halfway through to make sure the pasta reheats evenly.
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Baked Rigatoni Pasta with Red Wine Vegetables and Cream Sauce

A baking dish with baked rigatoni and veggies
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Fresh vegetables are cooked in a red wine reduction, then baked with tender noodles and a cheesy sauce. It’s an elegant pasta dinner perfect for weekends and holidays alike.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Bake Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced (not baby bellas, the large mushroom caps)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dry sage
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (I like Apothic dark or Apothic crush)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

For the cream sauce:

  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk plus 2 eggs, whisked together
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry sage
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Instructions

Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to boil. Grease your baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Set aside.

Cook the veggies. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables have softened.

Finish the sauce. Add the tomatoes, thyme, sage and red wine. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside. (A good way to judge whether the liquid has reduced by half is to stick the handle end of a wooden spoon into the pot just after the wine has been added. Now you have a visual measurement of how much liquid there was at the beginning. The mixture is done when the handle measures half of the original height.)

Cook the pasta. When the water has come to a boil add a generous dash or two of salt. Cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, add it to the casserole dish, then add the cooked vegetables. Mix well.

Add some mozzarella. Sprinkle 2 cups of the mozzarella in with the pasta and mix well.

Make the creamy sauce. Whisk the Parmesan cheese with the cream and eggs, add the sage, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables.

Add the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the pasta.

Bake the pasta and add butter. Bake for 15 minutes. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle the melted butter over the pasta. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pasta is bubbly. Allow the pasta to cool and set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

I used a 10 x 10 x 4-inch corning-ware casserole dish. A dutch oven would also work nicely.

Keywords: rigatoni recipe, red wine pasta, baked pasta recipe, baked pasta dishes

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