I had a completely different plan for cooking today, but you know what? In the end I decided I just wanted some comfort food. This Cheesy Rigatoni Skillet is just another version of my favorite easy comfort food—pasta, sauce, cheese, and whatever vegetables I can work into the mix. I’ve made several similar recipes in the past, but I figured why not document another one. Today’s was an east, skillet lasagna inspired variation with spinach and mushrooms.
Not into spinach and mushrooms? No problem. Brown some Italian sausage in the skillet first and use that in place of or in addition to the spinach and mushrooms. This dish is super flexible! And, thanks to the fact that sliced mushrooms were the same price as whole mushrooms today, and the convenience of my garlic press, I had ZERO CHOPPING to do for this recipe. That’s an easy meal win if I do say so myself. :) (Okay, so I added some chopped parsley for the photos, but wouldn’t have if I were not a food blogger who’s livelihood depended on pretty photos.)
Cheesy Rigatoni Skillet with Mushrooms and Spinach
Cheesy Rigatoni Skillet with Mushrooms and Spinach
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.26)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.24)
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced ($1.99)
- 24 oz pasta sauce (your favorite) ($1.49)
- 1/4 lb fresh spinach ($1.50)
- 8 oz rigatoni ($0.84)
- 8 oz whole milk ricotta ($1.25)
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan ($0.20)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($0.94)
- Salt and Pepper to taste ($0.05)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the rigatoni. Once boiling, add the pasta, and continue to boil until tender. Drain in a colander and set aside until needed.
- After starting the pasta water, begin the sauce. Add the olive oil and minced garlic to a large skillet and sauté for about one minute over medium heat, or just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and begin to brown on the edges (about 5-7 minutes).
- Add the sauce to the skillet. Stir the sauce as it heats, dissolving any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Once the sauce is heated through, add the spinach, and continue to stir and cook until the spinach has wilted (about 5 minutes more).
- Once the rigatoni has been cooked and drained, stir it into the skillet with the sauce and vegetables and allow everything to heat through.
- In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ricotta mixture to the skillet, in dollops over the surface. Gently fold the ricotta into the pasta, leaving it only about half mixed, so there are still pockets of ricotta within the sauce and pasta.
- Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pasta, place a lid on the skillet, and let it heat over medium-low until the cheese is melted. If you want the cheese to brown a bit, place it under your oven's broiler (without a lid) and watch closely until it develops a few browned spots. Serve hot.
Step by Step Photos
Begin cooking 8oz. of rigatoni according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes). Once it’s finished, drain in a colander and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, begin preparing the sauce. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet along with 3 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté over medium for about one minute, or just until it becomes really fragrant, then add 8 oz. sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their moisture and they begin to brown on the edges. Mushrooms are kind of interesting to cook because at first they absorb all the oil and the skillet seems dry, then they begin to soften and release water and you get a lot of steam and maybe even some liquid pooling in the skillet. Then that liquid dries up again and the mushrooms finally begin to brown. :)
Then add 24oz. of your favorite sauce. I bought this sauce on a whim because there was a sign that said it was 40% off (it did NOT ring up 40% off and I didn’t notice ’till I was home, boooo.) and it happens to be REALLY good. So good that I want to go back to the store and buy six more. And no, this is not sponsored in any way, I just wanted to share that it was surprisingly good. It has just a touch of cream and chablis, which gives it a really subtle amazing flavor. I want to eat it as a soup. Ha!
After adding the sauce, stir it as it heats and make sure all the brown bits are dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Once the sauce is hot, add 1/4 lb. fresh spinach.
Stir and cook the spinach in the sauce until the spinach has fully wilted (about 5 minutes).
By this time your rigatoni should be finished cooking and drained. Add the rigatoni to the sauce and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, stir together 8oz. whole milk ricotta, 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I will say that ricotta varies quite a bit from brand to brand and I’ve had some that are really not very good. I would stay clear of fat-free ricotta, for sure. I used Breakstone’s today and it was great (again, not sponsored).
Add the ricotta mixture in dollops on top of the pasta. Gently fold the ricotta into the pasta, leaving it only about half mixed, so you still have some nice big caches of cheese throughout.
Finally, sprinkle 1 cup shredded mozzarella over top and either place a lid on the skillet and let it heat over medium-low until the cheese melts, or place it under your oven’s broiler (no lid) until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve hot.
Total comfort in a skillet right there.
I’ll take a big ol’ plate of that, please and thank you!