Baked Lemon Rigatoni

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I love pasta. It is my go-to comfort food, especially on cold days. Now that my girls are older and their taste buds have grown up a little, I have been trying to get away from the simple spaghetti dish that I normally make them. I decided to create a dish that included flavors and foods they were not used to and had never tried before. Since I have been in a lemon phase lately, I decided to make Baked Lemon Rigatoni. 

A delicious meal that is perfect for big families. This mix of lemon and pancetta is amazing.

The combination of these ingredients is amazing to your senses:

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of pancetta (sliced or diced)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk, pref at room temperature
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian & Herb)
  • Salt/pepper to taste

The steps for making Baked Lemon Rigatoni are easy but time-consuming. In addition, you will use a few pots and pans so be prepared to clean a lot of dishes afterward. 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare a baking dish with butter or non-stick spray
  • Prepare rigatoni according to package directions
  • Heat the oil in a nonstick pan. 
  • Add the chopped (diced) pancetta and cook until brown & crispy
  • Scoop the pancetta out of the pan and place onto a paper towel to drain

  • In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat
  • Slowly add the flour and whisk until smooth
  • Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly so the mixture does not burn
  • Add the zest of 1-2 lemons (it’s up to you)
  • Simmer over medium heat
  • Whisk until the sauce thickens
  • Remove from heat



  • Add the pancetta, rigatoni, fresh thyme & 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese to the creamy mix
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the mix and stir
  • Pour contents into the prepared dish
  • Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top 
  • In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese 
  • Sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese 
  • Drizzle w the remaining oil from the pancetta (I did not use all of the oil, use your best judgment)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes

Baked Lemon Rigatoni

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 pounds of pancetta (sliced or diced)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk, pref at room temperature
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian & Herb)
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare a baking dish with butter or non-stick spray
  3. Prepare rigatoni according to package directions
  4. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan. 
  5. Add the chopped (diced) pancetta and cook until brown & crispy
  6. Scoop the pancetta out of the pan and place onto a paper towel to drain
  7. In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat
  8. Slowly add the flour and whisk until smooth
  9. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly so the mixture does not burn
  10. Add the zest of 1-2 lemons (it's up to you)
  11. Simmer over medium heat
  12. Whisk until the sauce thickens
  13. Remove from heat
  14. Add the pancetta, rigatoni, fresh thyme & 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese to the creamy mix
  15. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the mix and stir
  16. Pour contents into the prepared dish
  17. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top 
  18. In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese 
  19. Sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese 
  20. Drizzle w the remaining oil from the pancetta (I did not use all of the oil, use your best judgment)
  21. Bake for 20-25 minutes
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My family loved this Lemon Baked Rigatoni. They enjoyed the mix of lemon and pancetta along with all of the delicious cheese. This is a great meal to make for large families or gatherings. 

Also, take a look at my Baked Lemon Chicken with Vegetables and for dessert Lemon Fluff

A delicious meal that is perfect for big families. This mix of lemon and pancetta is amazing.

A delicious meal that is perfect for big families. This mix of lemon and pancetta is amazing.

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