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Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce


This recipe is slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine. I made this on a work night, and was pleased with how quickly this came to together. I have to say that the "pink sauce" was so delicious, that I will make this one of my favorite "go to" pasta sauces. All you need are some canned tomatoes, a little heavy cream (which is what turns the sauce from red to pink). Of course, you need onion and garlic. I chose to add Roasted Cauliflower, but you can add whatever you want-- including cooked sausage if you want. This recipe made enough to feed 8 people, but you can easily cut the recipe in half if you're feeding four or less.

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  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4 cloves and thought it was perfect)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1 lb. 1- to 1-1/2-inch cauliflower florets (about 4 cups)
  • olive oil
  • 10 oz. shredded Fontina (about 2-1/2 cups) (I used 2 cups of shredded Four-Cheese blend from Trader Joe's and 1/2 cup of Fontina)
  • 2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano (about 3/4 cup)


Adapted from


Step 1

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 420°F. Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil in a large pot . Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 Tbs. olive oil (I sprayed olive oil, which is less than 1 tablespoon).

Pour off 1 cup of juice from one of the cans of tomatoes and discard it. In a blender or food processor, purée both cans of tomatoes with their remaining juice and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a 6- to 8-qt. Dutch oven or heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, about 1 minute, add the onions and 1/4 tsp. of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Push the onions to the side of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon and add the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes, and cook until it just starts to sizzle and becomes fragrant, about 10 seconds.

Add the puréed tomatoes and cream (be careful; it will splatter), plus the remaining 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the sauce thickens slightly. Add the parsley , and cook until the flavors are melded, about 5 minutes more. Taste for salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Spread the cauliflower on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. I like to mix it around, with my hands, to coat the cauliflower. Roast until "al dente" and just slightly golden around the edges-- 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, when the salted water comes to a boil, cook the rigatoni until it’s al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add the pasta to the sauce. Add the cauliflower and combine.

Add half of the shredded cheeses to the pasta and cauliflower mixture and toss well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top the pasta with the remaining cheeses and then the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake uncovered until the cheese is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let the pasta rest for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: The leftovers reheat very well.

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