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Rigatoni Pasta with Cottage Cheese

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Our Rigatoni Pasta with Cottage Cheese is easy to make and includes Italian sausage, rigatoni pasta, cottage cheese, tomato-based sauce, red wine, and savory seasonings. This hearty dish will bring comfort to your dinner table in no time!

Cheese and basil on top of a plate of pasta noodles.

Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe

A big plate of warm, cheesy pasta is the BEST comfort food, and the great thing about it is its versatility.

This Italian sausage rigatoni pasta is one of our new favorites. I like to think of it as a high-protein deconstructed lasagna or maybe a lazy lasagna of sorts; it has similar flavors to our spaghetti pie.

Mild ground Italian sausage gets cooked with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Oh, and don’t forget the red wine! Then we add our favorite store-bought marinara and cottage cheese before tossing it with perfectly cooked rigatoni.

Top the pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve it with cheesy garlic bread, cheddar bay biscuits, or bruschetta for a full meal!

How to Make Rigatoni Pasta with Cream Cheese

This pasta dish is comforting, hearty, filling and only takes about 30 minutes to make. Here’s a quick rundown of how we do it.

Scroll to the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and full instructions.

  1. Place the cottage cheese into a blender or food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend it as smoothly as possible. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the rigatoni according to package directions. We prefer to cook our noodles to al dente so just a minute or two shy of what the package recommends.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and break it into small pieces. Cook until no pink remains then drain away any excess grease. Add the seasonings and tomato paste to the skillet. Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Blended cream cheese in a small food processor.
Italian sausage and seasonings cooked in a pan.
  1. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan. If you prefer to omit the red wine, deglaze the pan with water or broth instead.
  2. Add the jar of marinara sauce and the water (or broth) and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Scoop the blended cottage cheese into the pasta sauce and stir to combine. Add the cooked rigatoni and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese and fresh basil!
Blended cream cheese added to a pan of meat sauce.
Cooked rigatoni added to pasta sauce.

How to Store Rigatoni Pasta:

Refrigerator: Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Freezer: Cool the pasta in the refrigerator then transfer it to the freezer. When stored in a freezer-safe container or sealable bag, it stays fresh for about 2 months.

Thawing and Reheating: Place frozen pasta in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Reheat pasta in the microwave at half power until heated through or on the stovetop over low heat.

Rigatoni pasta with cheese sauce topped with cheese and basil.

Can you use ricotta in place of cottage cheese?

Yes, ricotta works but the pasta will have a different flavor and texture.

Do you have to use red wine?

Nope, it adds a wonderful depth of flavor, but feel free to leave it out. Another option is to use beef broth or water in place of wine. We’ve even heard of people using a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar with good results.

What if I can’t find rigatoni?

Rigatoni is our favorite because the ridges grab onto the sauce and the tubes allow extra sauce to flow through. If you can’t find rigatoni, use 8 ounces of your favorite pasta instead. Spaghetti, linguine, penne, or cavatappi all work well.

Close up view of a pan of pasta tossed in red sauce.

What other things can you add to this pasta?

We think this rigatoni pasta dish is fantastic as-is. But if you’d like to change an ingredient or add something extra, here are some ideas.

  • Cheese: Add some shredded mozzarella to the top and heat it under the broiler until bubbly!
  • Sausage: Use any variety of Italian sausage. Hot, medium, or mild all taste amazing.
  • Another Meat: Try using half Italian sausage and half ground beef or ground pork.
  • Sugar: Add 1 teaspoon of brown or granulated sugar to the sauce for a touch of sweetness.
  • Extra Protein: Use a high-protein noodle such as Bonza or Barailla+.
  • Veggies: Add bell peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, or other vegetables.

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Close up view of Italian sausage pasta on a plate.

Rigatoni Pasta with Cottage Cheese

4.8 from 5 votes
Print Pin
Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 4% small curd cottage cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • 16 ounces ground mild Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, optional
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • cup red wine, optional
  • cup water
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Place the cottage cheese into a blender or food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend it as smoothly as possible. Set aside.
    1 cup 4% small curd cottage cheese
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the rigatoni to al dente (a minute or two less than what the package recommends).
    8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and break it into small pieces. Cook until no pink remains then drain away any excess grease. Add the seasonings and tomato paste to the skillet. Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
    16 ounces ground mild Italian sausage
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 teaspoon brown sugar
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the jar of marinara sauce and the water (broth) and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.
    ⅓ cup red wine
    ⅔ cup water
    24 ounces marinara sauce
  • Scoop the blended cottage cheese into the pasta sauce and stir to combine. Add the cooked rigatoni and toss to coat.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan cheese and fresh basil!
  • Scroll up and see the post for FAQs and storage information.

Suggested Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 6ounces | Calories: 725kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 1873mg | Potassium: 1091mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 974IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 4mg

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1/4 of the recipe (about 6 to 7 ounces). Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
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