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Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce is loaded with tangy, sweet, rich hearty flavor and makes for an incredibly satiating meal. This easy to make healthy pasta recipe is gluten-free, packed with protein, and an incredible celebration of carbs. 😉

Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce - an easy pasta recipe that is grain-free, paleo, gluten-free, and easy to prepare! So incredibly flavorful and satisfying!

Is there anything more satisfying than a big bowl of saucy pasta?!

Back in my paleo days, I went through a stint of 5 plus years where I didn’t eat pasta.

As a result, I’m going through the most epic awakening now, wherein I’m not only delighting in the fabulous world of pastabilities (don’t kill me with fire), but it’s a pretty crucial staple in my diet.

Because of said revolution, I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert on gluten-free pasta noodles. I think it’s entirely possible that this exact pasta recipe may be my favorite pasta recipe I’ve made! The newest object of my affection, if you will.

Oddly enough, this Rigatoni Bolognese recipe is paleo-friendly (the grain-free noodles I use are made out of sweet potato and cassava). All the more reason to make up for lost time! 😉

Let’s dig into all the details, because I think you’ll love it, too!

Rigatoni Pasta Recipe with Bolognese Sauce - an easy pasta recipe that's loaded with flavor! This healthier pasta recipe is made with grain-free noodles but you can use any noodle you like.

What is Rigatoni?:

Rigatoni pasta noodles are round thick tubes that absorb sauce like they own it. It’s pretty remarkable how much flavor you can pack into a good rigatoni! 

You could compare the shape to penne noodles, although the sides are straight rather than angled, and the hole in the center of the pasta tube is wider.

While you can make all sorts of sauces to go along with rigatoni, classic tomato based Bolognese sauce with ground beef is tough to beat in any situation. For me, Rigatoni Bolognese is King!

Rigatoni Bolognese - a perfectly comforting dinner recipe

How about we jump into the ingredients?!

Bolognese Sauce Ingredients:

Avocado Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables, avocado oil is a high-temperature cooking oil that has a neutral flavor and is marvelous for sautéing. 

Onion, Carrot, Celery: Known as the “holy trinity,” or a mirepoix, the combination of onion, carrot and celery is the base of many traditional Italian sauce recipes as well as soup and stew. It yields that rich, sweet and tangy flavor that rounds out any dish!

Garlic: Fresh garlic brings so much joy to any meal and adds beautiful flavor to this Bolognese sauce.

Ground Beef: The meat portion of this meat sauce! Bolognese sauce always includes a hefty amount of ground meat, and beef is the traditional meat of choice. I’ve also made Bolognese with ground turkey and chicken and it still turns out tasty. My personal favorite is ground beef, bison, or elk (red meat), and I’m always up for a leaner or fattier grind – no preference.

Pasta Sauce: Here’s where I have some explaining to do. Rather than making the sauce 100% from scratch, I use a store-bought Tomato Basil Sauce (that doesn’t have any added sugar) for the sole reason that it already has a ton of flavor to it. 

Sure, we can absolutely make the tomato portion of the sauce from scratch using plain tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, fresh and/or dried herbs, etc., but the way I see it, we’re doubling up on flavor by sautéing some aromatics AND adding a sauce that has already been stewed for optimal flavor.

If you’d like to make the sauce 100% from scratch, omit the store-bought pasta sauce and replace it with 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce, 1 (16-oz) can crushed tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or sugar), and either ½ cup fresh herbs like basil and oregano or 3 Tbsp dried herbs like Italian seasoning or a mix of dried basil, oregano, thyme, etc.

For the pasta portion of this recipe, I use a gluten-free Sweet Potato Rigatoni Pasta, which I found on Amazon. It’s grain-free, paleo-friendly, and AIP! Perfect for folks who either have food sensitivities or are looking to maintain a low-inflammatory diet for health or lifestyle reasons.

It definitely has more of a macaroni look to it than rigatoni (which is typically a straight tube noodle), but it absorbs sauce in the most miraculous way, creating an incredible soft chew.

Rigatoni Bolognese recipe - an easy rigatoni pasta recipe with tomato meat sauce is an incredibly satisfying meal

Feel free to choose any type of noodle you like! I also love Tinkyada’s brown rice pasta noodles. Just note that you only need 8 ounces of rigatoni noodles for thick, luscious pasta that has a solid sauce-to-noodle ratio. 

How to Make Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce:

Begin by making the Bolognese sauce.

Add the avocado oil to a large thick-bottomed pot (I use my Dutch oven) and heat to medium-high. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

While the onion is sautéing, chop the carrots, celery, and garlic. Add them in and stir well. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Saute the holy trinity aka mirepoix for the sauce

Scoot the vegetables off to the side to clear off some room for the meat. Add the ground beef to the pot and sear for 3 minutes on both sides before chopping it up with a spatula and mixing it in with the vegetables. You don’t need to cook it all the way through just yet! Add in the minced garlic.

Add the ground beef and garlic

Pour in the Tomato Basil Sauce, stir well, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the sauce for at least 40 minutes (ideally 1 hour or even longer if you have the time).

Homemade bolognese sauce with simple ingredients

When the sauce is close to being finished, cook the pasta noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the Bolognese sauce and carefully toss it all together until the rigatoni is well-coated in sauce (as an alternative, serve the noodles and sauce separately so that people can choose their preferred ratio of noodles to sauce).

A bite of rigatoni with meat sauce

More Pasta Recipes:

The way I see it, this rigatoni pasta recipe is amazing for any occasion – date night, meal prep, family dinner, a gathering with friends…you name it! 

You may just want to make a bigger batch, because I guarantee once you get going with this pasta, you won’t want the experience to end 😉

Rigatoni Bolognese made grain-free and paleo-friendly. This easy pasta recipe is loaded with flavor!

I hope you love it as much as I do!

Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce - an easy pasta recipe that is grain-free, paleo, gluten-free, and easy to prepare! So incredibly flavorful and satisfying!

Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Rich, flavorful pasta Bolognese is so easy to prepare on any given evening, but has fancy date night appeal! Serve it up to friends and family for a show-stopping meal!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef*
  • 1 (24-oz) jar Tomato Basil Sauce**
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Sea Salt to taste

For the Pasta:

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the Bolognese sauce. Add the avocado oil to a large thick-bottomed pot (I use my Dutch oven) and heat to medium-high. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. While the onion is sautéing, chop the carrots, celery, and garlic. Add them in and stir well. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Scoot the vegetables off to the side to clear off some room for the meat. Add the ground beef to the pot and sear for 3 minutes on both sides before chopping it up with a spatula and mixing it in with the vegetables. You don’t need to cook it all the way through just yet!
  4. Pour in the Tomato Basil Sauce, stir well, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the sauce for at least 40 minutes (ideally 1 hour or even longer if you have the time).
  5. When the sauce is close to being finished, cook the pasta noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the bolognese sauce and carefully toss it all together until the rigatoni is well-coated in sauce (as an alternative, serve the noodles and sauce separately so that people can choose their preferred ratio of noodles to sauce).
  6. Serve pasta with grated gouda cheese or parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil.

Notes

*You can also use ground bison, elk, or turkey

** or store-bought tomato pasta sauce of choice. As an alternative, omit the store-bought sauce, and use 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce, 1 (16-oz) can crushed tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or sugar), and either ½ cup fresh herbs like basil and oregano or 3 Tbsp dried herbs like Italian seasoning or a mix of dried basil, oregano, thyme, etc.

***I use grain-free pasta noodles, but you can use any type of rigatoni noodles you like!

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1 of 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 508Total Fat 14gCarbohydrates 65gNet Carbohydrates 60gFiber 5gSugar 7gProtein 26g
Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce - Pasta Bolognese is loaded with tangy, sweet, rich hearty flavor and makes for an incredibly satiating meal. This easy to make healthy pasta recipe is gluten-free, packed with protein, and an incredible celebration of carbs. #rigatoni #Pasta #bolognese #italian #glutenfree #grainfree #paleo #Paleopasta #healthypasta #meatsauce
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