For New Year’s Eve, I decided to make Baked Rigatoni. It is fast becoming one of Ryan’s favorite dinners. He requested that I make it somewhat healthy – hmmmm, how can something that is meat, noodles, and cheese be somewhat healthy. I should mention that for the last year, we have tried to eliminate low-fat/reduced fat products or any artificial type foods, which makes it a bit more difficult to “healthy it up,” as Ryan would say.
In an effort to be healthy, I decided to make Chicken and Spinach Meatballs instead of your typical beef/pork/sausage meatballs. The only problem is that we didn’t have enough ground chicken. I added some ground pork, but I think next time I would do all ground Chicken. I also added spinach to the meatballs and more veggies in the dish than I had in prior batches. I also decided to split the dish between two casserole dishes and make 16 total servings.
I checked with Ryan to see if the serving size was sufficient, and Ryan said, “the serving size is big enough for a normal appetite, but not the one I have had lately.” Oh brother, he is a handful.
Speaking of a handful. Guess who went to the grocery store to buy all of these ingredients for the Baked Rigatoni for me?? If you guessed Ryan, you are correct. And yes, I will probably never ask him to go to the grocery store ever again. The first sign of trouble came when he called me to ask, “What do you mean by tomato?” Hmmmm. I wasn’t even sure how to respond by that. I told him I planned to make a salad with dinner which seemed to clear things up, but then he said, “So that must be what you meant by lettuce?” I am unclear what the confusion was, but given his opposition to vegetables – here and here, I guess I should not have been surprised.
I called him about an hour later, and was surprised to find that he was still at the grocery store. When I voiced my surprise he said, “Yes, I am still here – It is brutal, but I am hanging in there. Can’t talk, have to go.” He then immediately hung up the phone. Seriously, it was like he was running special ops in a heavily guarded enemy camp, not shopping for lettuce and tomatoes.
Well, somehow he made it home, I am not sure how. I think he has recovered from the grocery store, but at this point, I think I would be better of sending Murphy than sending Ryan.
Anyways, back to dinner. Here is the recipe . . .
Meatballs – Chicken/Pork and Spinach
- 1 Pound Ground Chicken
- 3/4 Pound Ground Pork
- 1 Can Chopped Spinach, Drained
- 6-10 Leaves Basil – Chopped
- 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1/4 Plain Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Italian Cheese Blend
- 3/4 Pound Sausage
- 1/2 Onion, diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
- 6-12 Basil Leaves, chopped
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Large Cans of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
- 1 Large Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Box Rigatoni – Cooked
- 2 Red Bell Peppers
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- Button Mushrooms
- 2 Cups Shredded Italian Cheese Blend
- 4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Combine all of the ingredients and form into quarter sized balls.
- Place on cookie sheet (I sprayed mine by Pam before hand to ease cleanup).
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Brown sausage in large saucepan.
- Add onion and cook until translucent (about 10 minutes).
- Add garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and simmer.
I split this between two pans, so 16 total servings.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Layer ingredients in casserole dish – sauce, noodles, meatballs, peppers, mushrooms, then cheese.
- Repeat a second layer of everything, except save some sauce to place on top before adding the final layer of cheese – so . . . sauce, noodles, meatballs, peppers, mushrooms, sauce, then cheese.
- Cover with tinfoil and bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Remove tinfoil for the last 15 minutes.
If you add veggies and a side salad, it is even healthier (and someone – ahem, Ryan – is less likely to complain about lack of food).
p.s. I will post the nutritional information tomorrow.