Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni

My life hurts, people.  Seriously. I was up late last night finishing a job that was due and then couldn’t get to sleep.  I was tossing and turning all night. This morning I got up at the crack of “it’s-way-too-freakin’-early-to-be-awake” to drive middle school carpool. […]

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Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni

My life hurts, people.  Seriously.

I was up late last night finishing a job that was due and then couldn’t get to sleep.  I was tossing and turning all night.

This morning I got up at the crack of “it’s-way-too-freakin’-early-to-be-awake” to drive middle school carpool.  Then I came home only to remember that it was school picture day for the kindergartener.

So with not a lot of time to spare, I had to come up with an acceptable picture “outfit” (meaning, something that looked decent from the armpits on up, since that’s all that ever shows in the picture anyway), and some sort of hairstyle.

Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni in casserole dish

Now, a hairdresser I am not.  I can barely do my own hair, let alone my kiddo’s hair.  And 15 minutes wasn’t exactly a lot of time to work with.  A curling iron, a flat iron, some barrettes and a LOT of hairspray later, we were out the door to drop kiddos off at kindergarten and preschool.

Then it was off to the store to grab groceries and forget half the things on my list.

[The forgetting thing seems to be a weekly thing now.  I mean, how does one forget things from their list when the list is RIGHT THERE in their hand??]

After that it was race to another store while I still had a few precious minutes of “no kids in tow” time left.  Where I once again forgot one of the items that was the main reason for me going to the store in the first place…

[Are you seeing where I going with this?  And I’m not even up to noon yet…]

Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni overhead plate

Pick up from preschool, only to find the 3-year-old in a jacket that was soaked, with a soaked shirt underneath.  I still cannot get a clear answer from him about what happened.

Come home, change clothes and find that the cat has puked all over the kitchen floor.

Then race out the door for kindergarten pickup, where my neighbor who we walk home with was kind enough to point out how pretty my daughter looked today.  Which led to me commenting on how I hoped her hair had stayed done for pictures.  To which the response was something along the lines of, “What pictures?” And that was when it dawned on me that today had, in fact, NOT been school picture day for the kindergartener.   (It was last week.)

Come home from kindergarten pickup only to find the city out inspecting my front sidewalks and measuring and making notes.  (They’re doing a sidewalk safety check.)  And now I’m expecting a citation (and probably fines) coming in the mail…

Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni closeup

I’m a little bit stressed and a lot rattled (or is that a little bit rattled and a lot stressed) and it’s only noon.  And this is just a pretty typical day!  It’s kinda like this EVERY day!

And I wonder why I crave carbs all the time…

When this body gets stressed, it craves easily digestible sugars and carbs.  And caffeine.  Definitely caffeine.

So, I bring you one of my go-to “for when my life hurts” meals.

It’s meaty, it’s cheesy, and it’s packed with carbs!!  This is one that my kids will have second and third helpings of, and I’m okay with that.  Because being a kid is tough, and if I’ asked them, they’d probably say that their lives hurt, too.  😉

Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni with bread

Overhead shot of Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni in casserole dish
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5 from 1 vote

Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni

It's meaty, it's cheesy, and it's packed full of wonderful, delicious carbs! For those times when spaghetti and meatballs just won't cut it. 😉
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people
Author: Make-Ahead Meal Mom


  • 1 16oz pkg rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook rigatoni according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium heat, saute the diced onions in the olive oil until softened and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  
  • Add in the sausage and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Turn down heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.
  • Stir in heavy cream, basil, salt and pepper to sauce mixture.
  • To assemble meal, add about one cup of the sauce mixture to a baking dish and spread to coat the bottom.  Then layer half of the cooked pasta, half of the mozzarella cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese and half of the sauce mixture.  Layer the remaining pasta and then the sauce mixture, and top with the remaining cheese.  
  • Cover, label & date, and place in freezer until ready to cook.

To cook:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  (If time allows, remove from freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator). Cook, uncovered, until heated through and bubbling, 25-30 minutes from thawed, or 2 hours from frozen.  Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired.


For extra flavor, you can use basil-infused olive oil and crushed tomatoes with basil (or the basil, garlic and onion variety).
Freezer Meal: Baked Sausage & Cheese Rigatoni | It's meaty, it's cheesy and it's loaded with delicious carbs!! Great for when your stressed and spaghetti and meatballs just doesn't cut it! This is a fabulous meal to have in your freezer all ready to go!

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