Dinner Rush! Rigatoni with Meat Sauce and Peas

There’s no sense in even trying to deny the allure of rigatoni. You love it, you know you love it and there’s no shame in admitting it. Those thick tubes of perfectly cooked pasta, harboring secret pockets of saucy delight. Don’t even try to wipe the drool off your keyboard. Resistance is futile.

Seriously, though, if you’re hankering for quick and easy weeknight comfort, this is the ticket. A lean blend of flavorful meats and just a touch of cream make for a sauce so delicious and silky it’ll leave that pantry can of vowel-shaped spaghetti shaking on its shelf. And don’t worry about all that healthy talk — there’s totally peas in here, so you’re getting your green for the day. Plus everyone deserves a little carb comfort now and again, right?

Rigatoni with Meat Sauce and Peas

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: None
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy

1 pound rigatoni
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (equal parts ground beef, veal and pork)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can tomato puree
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Salt and ground black pepper

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Add the rigatoni to the water and cook it to al dente according to package directions. When the rigatoni is ready, reserve a small mug of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta well and return it to the pot it was cooked in.

While the pasta is cooking, place a large, high-sided saute pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring to break the meat up, until it begins to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste to the meat, and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the tomato paste is caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red wine to the pan and scrape up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom. Add the tomato puree, cream and a few splashes of the reserved pasta water to the pan and bring the sauce up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the peas to the sauce and simmer until defrosted, about 1 minute. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the parsley and about 1/2 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the cooked rigatoni and gently toss together to coat the pasta. Serve the pasta garnished with the remaining cheese.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.