Baked Mezzi Rigatoni with Pork, Kale and Mushrooms


So, today’s post is about comfort food but still trying to be good. Is that even possible?


We hosted some friends in town recently and they stayed with us for one night so I wanted to cook up a nice, home cooked meal. These guys had just in fact climbed Mount Rainier! Yup, you heard me right. They were out there for ONE week. 5 days climbing up that bad boy and coming down. They went with professional mountain climbers and a group so they were in great hands. .  but they were there for one week, with no running water, no shower, no bathroom (well, not what we would call a bathroom) and they were carrying everything they needed for that week, on their backs (40 lbs I think)!


The first thing I asked John when they got to our house- after, “Wow! Congrats! You freakin’ climbed Mt. Rainier” – was: “Dude, what have you been eating this entire week?”  and “so, this means you haven’t showered in a week huh?”


So, when it was confirmed they were coming over for dinner I started cooking. .  John and Tae were tired, hungry and had just spent a week eating dried food and  nuts ..  so I had to whip out my specialty. .  to me, this dish says home cooked at its best. .  and it makes the kitchen smell amazing.  I made my Pork Shoulder Ragù. . . and I was going to make Mac n Cheese to go with it. .  because I’m thinking these guys would love some Mac n Cheese right about now, right? Wrong! Well, at least one of the guys. . .


John comes into the kitchen and comments on the amazing smell of the pork cooking and asks me what’s for dinner. .  so I tell him Pork Shoulder Ragù. .  and he politely asks me to not put any cheese, especially not Parmigiano-Reggiano on his . . . Well, I am floored because I have never before in my life met anyone who doesn’t like Parmigiano-Reggiano! Come on!!! Are you freakin’ kidding me? It’s freakin’ wonderful. How can you eat any pasta dish without  freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano?  And while I am pulling myself together mentally. .  I say, “OK but you like Mac n Cheese right?” Well, friends. Seems I met the first person I know who does not like mac n cheese. Well, other than my 5 year old daughter. He doesn’t eat cheese at all. No cheese. Nothing. He can barely eat pizza with mozzarella cheese on it. .  the smell bothers him and I think he might have even said it kind of makes him want to hurl. Like, it’s that bad.


So, after it hits me that a non-cheese lover person is standing right there in my kitchen, I go to Plan B. Pork Shoulder Ragù with Orecchiette pasta, no cheese. At all. Usually when I cook, I am only cooking for my family so – again, thinking these guys are going to be freakin’ hungry- I cook up almost 4 lbs of pork shoulder. I know. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Maybe I was just excited to cook up a larger quantity, I don’t know.


Needless to say, we had left overs. And lots of it.


Which brings us to this lovely Baked Mezzi Rigatoni dish that I made tonight. I successfully used up the rest of the pork shoulder ragù. And I must say, this Baked Mezzi Rigatoni was freakin’ delicious. I just had to say “freakin” one more time in this post.


When I think of baked pasta, I usually think of fattening ingredients like heavy cream and lots of cheese (like ricotta). Well, I tried to stay as healthy as possible with this one. There is no heavy cream and I added a lot of vegetables.  . just how I like it! See, that’s the beauty of a baked pasta dish- you can throw in just about anything you want.


Variations:  If you don’t have time to make the Pork Shoulder Ragù, just use your fave chicken sausage, ground turkey OR add no meat at all! Go vegetarian. It’s totally up to you.


I’m ready to curl up with a big, fat chunk of this and dig in. .  and that’s what I’m going to do! And as for John, my non-cheese loving friend. It’s all good. I’m going to let this one go. .  homeboy is scared of heights, conquered his fear and freakin’ climbed Mount Rainier. Woot Woot baby.


I hope you enjoy!


Baked Mezzi Rigatoni with Pork, Kale and Mushrooms
If you want to make the Pork Shoulder Ragù, please click on the link above for ingredients and directions. MAKE AHEAD: I suggest making the pork a day ahead and then you’ll already have it ready for the baked pasta.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 8-9

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of kale, chopped
  • 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup of spinach, chopped (fresh or frozen/thawed spinach)
  • 1-2 cups of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ pound of Mezzi Rigatoni pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
  • 3 cups of pork shoulder ragu (or ground turkey, or sausage; whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce; jarred store bought or canned
  • about 2 cups of shredded or diced fresh mozzarella cheese; split
  • ½ cup of light (low-fat) sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish

  1. If using, prepare the pork shoulder ragu.
  2. For the baked mezzi rigatoni, preheat the oven to 375°. In a large, deep pan, heat the olive oil. Add all of the chopped vegetables and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain completely and cool under running water.
  4. After the pasta has cooled a bit, put it back into the same empty pot (trying to save some dishes here), and add the pork shoulder ragu, all of the cooked vegetables, additional marinara sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and the sour cream. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour all of your pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese if desired.
  6. Bake the pasta for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Let rest for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.





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14 Responses to "Baked Mezzi Rigatoni with Pork, Kale and Mushrooms"

Add Comment

    September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Nice. I love easy meals that feed a crew or give you lots of leftovers for the week. The pork ragu looks pretty awesome, too.

    • hipfoodiemom

      September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you so much, Richard! You must try it!

  2. Sarah

    September 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    aahhhhhhh! I love rigatoni! You might defriend me if I say this but I don’t like cheese either. A lot of Korean’s don’t like cheese because it’s not part of our traditional diet. I’ve grown to “like” cheese over the years but I only make mac & cheese for Josh because he loves it so much. I don’t even touch it. Your Ragu looks amazing Alice!

    • hipfoodiemom

      September 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Sarah! Really?? yeah, I guess. . you mean not even Brie? or any soft cheeses? Girl, you are my Korean homie. I am never de-friending you. . . you do like chocolate, right? 😛

  3. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    September 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I’m definitely ready to curl up with a huge plate of this right now!

    • hipfoodiemom

      September 28, 2012 at 4:45 am

      Awh, thanks Chung-Ah! :)

  4. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    September 28, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Your writing style is so kick ass – you always make me laugh. I don’t like eating cheese by itself but melted or deep fried? Gimme more! This rigatoni looks so delicious – all crusty ‘n bubbly with that melted cheese on top…drool. Your photography is exquisite and I totally covet that blue plate.

    • hipfoodiemom

      September 28, 2012 at 4:48 am

      Nancy, you are too good to me! 😛 I could eat cheese and crackers or cheese and bread all day if my body allowed. I love it. Thank you so much for the super sweet comments re: my photography. . that really means a lot!
      As soon as I saw that blue plate at Z Gallerie, I knew it had to be mine. Word up.

  5. yinmomyangmomallie

    September 29, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Fun post! That recipe looks perfect for fall… congrats on the foodista feature!!! ; )

    • hipfoodiemom

      September 29, 2012 at 2:39 am

      Thank you so much, Allie! :) I love pasta and especially with a ton of veggies and baked like this.

  6. Diane

    September 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Hey Alice it’s Nivi’s mom – finally got up on your blog! That pork shoulder ragu looks amazing, the perfect thing to have on hand in quantity as we get into the grey season here. I’m thinking I’m going to braise up a batch! Funny Korea + cheese side note – I lived in Pusan for two years in the mid-90s and cheese was so hard to find that I’d regularly travel three hours round trip to the black market to buy Velveeta (yep, that ‘s as good as it got!) and then I’d throw a dinner party w/friends to celebrate my cheese acquisition! Loved So. Korea tho – people & food were great!

    • hipfoodiemom

      October 1, 2012 at 6:39 am

      OMG, Diane! yea! You found me! :) and wow! you lived in Pusan for 2 years? What! We need to catch up in person! See you Tuesday if not sooner! and thank you for the comment! :)

  7. Ashley - Baker by Nature

    October 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    This is my kind of comfort food! Just let me know what time dinner is 😉

    • hipfoodiemom

      October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      haha, Ashley!! :) love that! Thank you so much for the awesome comment!


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