This Spicy Chorizo Arrabbiata Pasta Bake is loaded with rich and spicy homemade arrabbiata sauce, snuggled into a layer of 3 ingredient bechamel sauce and topped with melting cheese. It’s the perfect make ahead dinner or a casual Sunday dinner. It freezes like a dream and is completely made from scratch in about 35 minutes.
Okay guys. We’re turning some traditions on their heads today. I’ve always been a great fan taking one idea and tweaking it and playing around until I create something new and it becomes my version of a modern classic. Yesterday I made a homemade store cupboard arrabbiata sauce, and it was amazing. But penne arrabbiata is a little boring don’t cha think? And there are no pasta bakes on SM right now. So, in the interest of keeping it cozy in mid-January we’re going pasta bake.
But, not any old pasta bake. That would be crazy. This arrabbiata pasta bake kinda wants to be lasagna but with less work. So here it goes. You make a 3 ingredient cream sauce. And then you stand some rigatoni noodles on their sides. This is not just because it looks cute. It’s so that all that rich and spicy tomato sauce can fall down those tubes and gather in the deep ridges of these noodles bringing to you the most hearty pasta bake of all time. Maybe that statement is ambitious, but it’s pretty hearty.
How to make Arrabbiata Pasta Bake Step By Step
Step 1 & 2- Layer the white sauce.
Pour the bechamel sauce into your baking dish and spread it in a thin layer over the bottom. Place the noodles on their ends with the tubes facing upwards. This may look finicky, but it’s not. That bechamel acts like a glue and keeps those noodles in place. This step should only take about 3 minutes.
Step 3 & 4- Sauce and cheese
Once all your noodles are standing upright, spoon that sauce over the noodles letting it fall into the tubes and around the noodles. We’re going for the art of rustic here. Not meticulous plating. You could even get the kids to do it. That’s how not fussy we are about this.
Then layer with the cheese. I used a mix of mozzarella and parmesan. Don’t be shy with the cheese. This is a pasta bake that wants to love you and bring you warmth and comfort. That needs cheese.
Place this little work of pasta bake art in the oven for about 20 minutes while you just relax. It’s midweek after all. If your like me, you like to leave your pasta bakes in the oven for a few minutes more than you should, so that the edges can go golden and that cheese and the tips of those noodles can go a little on the crispy side and that bechamel sauce on the bottom is super creamy and piping hot. Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Okay so now that we’ve been through a thorough step by step of how to make the world’s best pasta bake let me answer some of the pasta related questions I get asked all the time.
Do I need to precook the noodles for a pasta bake?
Yes. You do. There are some recipes that call for uncooked noodles in a pasta bake but here’s the deal with them. They require a long cook time. Like usually 60 minutes +. Because the noodles are being cooked by indirect heat they take way longer. Stove top noodle situation 6 minutes. Some recipes mention that the cook time is referred to as “hands off” cook time. Maybe. But boiling some noodles on the stove is hardly labour intensive.
Another reason to precook the noodles is because you drain those noodles off before you layer with sauce and bake. Well, when you don’t precook, the recipe is assuming that the liquid in the recipe will need to be a sauce AND cook your noodles. The chances of having a watery, overly saucy pasta bake are just far too high for my liking.
We’re talking 6 minutes, or a ruined dinner. It’s up to you, but I know what I would choose.
Can I freeze and reheat a pasta bake?
Why yes. Yes you can. If you’re putting this together to freeze and have for a mid week dinner, then you’re a genius and yes, you can freeze this. It’s kinda the same premise and freezing a lasagna. When you go to freeze it, double wrap in foil. This protects from and kind of freezer burn. Not that it’ll be in there long enough, but still.
To reheat a pasta bake, start with a very hot oven. You want to get this pasta bake on the table quickly and hot. And we want to avoid any drying out. If you have a heat too low, the dish needs to stay in longer and ends up drying out. As well, they can leach water and get a little soggy. You want hight heat for speed and to evaporate any water or sogginess that may develop at a lower temperature.
Spicy Chorizo Arrabbiata Pasta Bake
For the sauce
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 dried chilli peppers
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 small onions finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tins crushed tomatoes fire roasted if possible
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup vodka optional
- Basil leaves
For the Béchamel Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons butter melted
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
For the Pasta Bake
- 3 chorizo sausages casings removed
- 2 cups dry rigatoni
- 1 ball buffalo mozzarella
- 1/4 cup parmesan grated
- Heat the olive oil in a medium size pan over a medium high heat. Add the dried chillies and the chilli flakes to flavour the oil. Let fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the onion, sausage meat and garlic to the pan and let fry gently for another 5 minutes. It’s okay if they colour slightly that is perfectly fine. Golden onions are always welcome.
- Add the tomato paste to the pan and mix well. Let the paste cook into the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and the stock. Let this come to a simmer and reduce for about 15 minutes, until it’s thick.
- Remove from the heat and finish with the basil leaves and vodka if using.
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk over the heat until a thick paste forms. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. Whisk until the sauce turns thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
To Make the pasta bake, cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Brown the sausages in a medium skillet, and drain on a paper towel.
- Pour the béchamel in an oven proof baking dish and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.
- Stand the noodles up on end in the sauce.
- Spoon the arrabbiata sauce over the noodles and top with the cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 350f for about 20-30 minutes.