Fennel and Meatball Baked Rigatoni

Our Signature Merlot enhances the natural anise flavor of the fennel in this dish, and its bright freshness and well-rounded tannins stand up nicely to the rich tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp Trefethen extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seed
  • 24 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 16 oz rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Procedure

  • 1Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  • 2Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook meat for 5-8 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the onion to the pan and cook until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is softened.
  • 3Add the garlic and fennel and cook for 30 seconds. Add both the tomato products to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until just thickened.
  • 4To assemble, toss the cooked rigatoni with the sauce. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned. Sprinkle with parsley. Let stand for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy!

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