Marinara, a versatile ingredient, adds a zesty, tangy flavor to many Italian dishes. Historians believe marinara sauce originated in the southern region of Italy around Naples or Sicily. Tomatoes first appeared in Europe when explorers brought them over from the New World in the 16th century. From there, a simple sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and herbs was born and has graced many plates since.

Marinara is used in a variety of recipes, from pasta to meatloaf to chicken parmesan and more. Although many people expand upon the original marinara recipe, the basic Italian version stands well on its own. For this recipe, you can make your marinara sauce or use your favorite canned one. We hope you enjoy this unique twist on a classic Italian dish!

Not only does this recipe taste delicious, but it also contains whole, healthy ingredients as well. Everyone can enjoy this dish, even those on a low-carb diet. You can always swap the rigatoni for a gluten-free option made with ingredients like d, brown rice, or corn. Either way, it makes a beautiful meal for a cold night or when you need some comfort food.

A healthy and delicious marinara

The marinara sauce is made with onions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, and basil, all of which have health benefits. We will go over the various nutrition facts about each below.


These vegetables have many vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that benefit health. Namely, they are rich in Vitamin C and B vitamins such as folate and pyridoxine(B6). They also have a decent amount of potassium, which many people in western countries are lacking. Finally, they’re rich in antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds, making them a crucial ingredient for everyday meals.


Like onions, garlic also contains antioxidants as well as B and C vitamins. It’s been used for centuries for healing various ailments such as the common cold or flu. Garlic has been known to boost the immune system and slow down the aging process by blocking free radicals. Aside from these benefits, it also tastes great in almost any dish, making it incredibly versatile.

Olive oil:

This oil is an excellent source of healthy fats. Around 11% of olive oil contains polyunsaturated fat, such as omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. However, about 73% of the oil is comprised of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This is known to reduce inflammation and may even lower cancer risk. Furthermore, olive oil contains tons of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s no wonder people are so healthy in the Mediterranean because they use olive oil liberally!


Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, folate, and Vitamin K. They also have antioxidants and flavonoids known to decrease inflammation and blood pressure.


Basil has been used in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and other holistic medicine systems for thousands of years. It is a powerful plant rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as Vitamin K.

Rigatoni and cheese also have plenty of health benefits. Pasta contains a lot of fiber, which helps your digestive system run smoothly and keeps you fuller longer. Cheese contains tons of protein and healthy fats, as well as calcium.

rigatoni pie
How to make rigatoni pie with homemade marinara sauce:

What you’ll need:

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Large cooking pot
  • Medium pot
  • Pie dish
  • Wooden spoon for stirring


  • 1/2 medium-sized onion
  • Four cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Two cans of diced tomatoes
  • a handful of chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • One box or bag of rigatoni
  • A couple of handfuls of your favorite shredded cheese

Making the marinara sauce:

  • Get out your cutting board and chop up half of a medium-sized onion. You’ll want to make sure you chop it into small, cubed pieces.
  • Next, grab your garlic cloves, and press them down with a knife to easily peel the skin. After repeating this with all four, chop them into fine, small pieces.
  • Then, put three tablespoons of olive oil into your medium-sized pot. Cook the onion for a few minutes until it turns light brown, stirring occasionally. Repeat this same process with the garlic.
  • Next, pour in the canned diced tomatoes. Stir the onion, garlic, and tomatoes to blend the ingredients.
  • Then, chop up a handful of fresh basil. 5 or 6 leaves should do. Add these into the pot.
    Stir until blended, and add the 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir this into the mixture as well.
  • Now that you’ve made the marinara sauce, we can move on to the next step.

Making the rigatoni pie:

  • When the water is boiling, add the bag of rigatoni. Cook until it’s slightly less than al dente.
  • Now, grab your pie dish and coat it with a small dab of olive oil. Place the rigatoni vertically (standing up) until you’ve covered the bottom of the whole dish.
  • Take the marinara sauce and spread it on top of the noodles with a small spoon. Make sure to cover all the noodles thoroughly, coating them several times.
  • Shake the dish a few times so that the sauce coats the inside of the noodles as well.
  • Next, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of your favorite cheese on top. Shredded mozzarella, fontina, or asiago cheese work well in most Italian dishes.
  • Now, bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Cut yourself a slice and enjoy! You can add more marinara sauce or shredded cheese on top if you’d like.

Final thoughts: this rigatoni pie topped with marinara sauce will be your new favorite dinner

Not only is this recipe reasonably easy to make, but it’s healthy and delicious! The preparation takes about 20-30 minutes, and baking should take 15-20. Plus, it will last for several nights, so you won’t have to worry about cooking for the week.

Italian dishes are hearty and packed with heart-healthy ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes. This rigatoni pie has all the classic tastes of Italy with a unique twist that keeps cooking fresh and exciting. We hope you enjoy it!