Rigatoni al Forno with Veggies

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Lindsay Delk, RDN

Are you looking for an easy, healthy, but delicious pasta dish to serve up for dinner? This flavorful rigatoni al forno with veggies will do the trick. This classic Italian-inspired bake is a simple but satisfying meal. It’s a comforting mixture of textures and flavors that everyone will love. Best of all, it takes little time to prepare and is full of nutrition.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

The baked final product of rigatoni al forno in a glass baking dish

Why You’ll Love Rigatoni al Forno with Veggies

Rigatoni al forno is a classic Italian dish made with rigatoni pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. The pasta is first cooked in boiling water until al dente. Then it is combined with the tomato sauce and baked in an oven with shredded cheese on top. The result is a rich, savory dish that is perfect for any occasion.

To increase the nutrition of this rigatoni al forno recipe, I added lots of different vegetables. The rigatoni pasta is added to the mixture of beef, marinara sauce, and veggies and baked until it is golden and bubbly. This dish has all the makings of a classic comfort food – hearty, savory, cheesy goodness.

And there’s no need to worry about a complex cooking process – this dish is easy enough for any home cook to make. Serve it up with a simple side salad and some crusty bread, and you’ve got an amazing Italian-inspired feast.

Upclose view of rigatoni al forno lifted by a fork

Recipe Ingredients & Mental Health Benefits

This classic Italian dish is a great way to enjoy all the benefits of pasta, beef, and vegetables without a lot of saturated fat. All together, this meal provides your body with essential nutrients in a delicious package.

  • Rigatoni

Rigatoni pasta is a complex carbohydrate that provides energy for your body and helps you stay active throughout the day. It also contains generous amounts of protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, iron, and selenium. It is even better if you can find whole wheat rigatoni because it will have more nutrients and fiber than white rigatoni.

  • Extra lean ground beef

I used 96% extra lean ground beef for this recipe. It has a great flavor and is low in saturated fat. It is nutrient-rich, providing high levels of protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins, choline, and selenium. If you use extra lean ground beef, you don’t need to drain the meat mixture after cooking.

  • Onion, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, and marinara sauce

Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that have powerful effects on your physical and mental health. Eating a variety of different colored veggies, like those in this recipe, also ensures that you get an array of important nutrients.

Studies suggest that eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase overall feelings of wellbeing. And by including a wide range of vegetables in your diet on a daily basis, you can boost your immune system to fight off illnesses more effectively.

  • Shredded mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese

Shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses are high in protein, calcium, and several vitamins and minerals. And cheese is delicious! But because cheese is high in saturated fat, eat it in moderation.

How to Make Rigatoni al Forno

Cook the rigatoni according to package directions for al dente pasta.

Cooked rigatoni in a pot

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Gather your ingredients.

Diced zucchini, carrots, onions, and mushrooms on a cutting board

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook the beef, onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and 1/2 Tbsp. of Italian seasoning until the beef is cooked through and the veggies are softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Ground beef, carrots, zucchini, and onion cooked in a skillet

Add the marinara sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ground beef and veggie sauce in a skillet

Combine the beef and veggie mixture, rigatoni, and 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese.

Rigatoni and the meat/veggie sauce combined in a pot

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning.

Rigatoni al forno in a glass baking dish before it is baked

Cover and bake at 350℉ for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.

The baked final product of rigatoni al forno in a glass baking dish

Tips, Variations, & Substitutions

  • Cook your rigatoni for al dente pasta. Al dente pasta has a firm, resilient texture. The term translates from Italian to mean “to the tooth.” To achieve this texture, cook the pasta until it is just tender with some resistance still present when bitten into. It should not be overcooked or mushy.
  • Use a high-quality tomato sauce. A simple marinara works perfectly with this baked pasta dish.
  • Add fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano, for an herby flavor boost.
  • Substitute whatever veggies you like, such as bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach.
  • Add olives and artichoke hearts for an interesting twist.
  • For an extra dose of flavor and nutrition, try replacing some of the noodles with spiralized vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or zucchini.

Side Dishes for Rigatoni al Forno

Roasted Asparagus and Carrots

Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Edamame

Air Fryer Frozen Asparagus

Frozen Butternut Squash in the Air Fryer

Chick-Fil-A Kale Salad

Bottom Line

Rigatoni al forno is a delicious, comforting dish that you can make with simple ingredients and minimal effort. And you can customize it to suit your dietary needs or preferences. Let me know how you like the recipe, and sign up for my newsletter to get more recipes like this one.

The baked final product of rigatoni al forno in a glass baking dish

Rigatoni al Forno with Veggies

This classic Italian-inspired bake is a simple but satisfying meal. It's a comforting mixture of textures and flavors that everyone will love. Best of all, it takes little time to prepare and is full of nutrition.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 379 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 lb ground beef extra lean
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 small zucchini diced
  • 1 c baby bella mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese divided
  • 1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Cook the rigatoni according to package directions for al dente pasta.
  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook the beef, onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and 1/2 Tbsp. of Italian seasoning until the beef is cooked through and the veggies are softened.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the marinara sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Combine the beef and veggie mixture, rigatoni, and 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning.
  • Cover and bake at 350℉ for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.

Notes

  • You do not need to drain the meat mixture if you use extra lean beef.
  • Cook your rigatoni for al dente pasta. To achieve this texture, cook the pasta until it is just tender with some resistance still present when bitten into. It should not be overcooked or mushy.
  • Use a high-quality tomato sauce as the base of your recipe. A simple marinara works perfectly with this baked pasta dish.
  • Add fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano, for an herby flavor boost.
  • Substitute whatever veggies you like, such as bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach.
  • Add olives and artichoke hearts for an interesting twist.
  • For an extra dose of flavor and nutrition, try replacing some of the noodles with spiralized vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or zucchini.
Keyword al forno, pasta, rigatoni, veggies

2 thoughts on “Rigatoni al Forno with Veggies”

  1. No rating as I haven’t tried the recipe. I just question the prep time of 5 minutes… how can you dice a small yellow onion, a carrot, a small zucchini, chop baby bella mushrooms and mince 2 cloves of garlic in 5 minutes??

    1. Hi Lauren! Thank you for your comment. I use frozen minced garlic; and while I do think you can dice an onion, carrot, and zucchini in 5 minutes, I will adjust that to 10 minutes to be more accurate. Thank you for the suggestion, and I hope you will try the recipe and that you will love it!

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