Dinner Favorites · Pasta

Baked Pasta con Ricotta e Salsicce

Wow – that certainly is a fancy-pants title for a simple baked pasta dish, isn’t it? I feel as though I should be formally attired and sip my wine “pinky-out” while partaking in this:

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Truthfully, this was one of those last minute dinners that worked perfectly, as I (conveniently) had everything in the house …..but I can’t take credit for it. I mean, I can take credit for the photo and the food, but the idea came from my daily email via Food and Wine.

It was delicious though…..even without the formal attire….

Baked Pasta con Ricotta e Salsicce – adapted from Food and Wine
3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound hot or sweet Italian fennel sausage, casings removed
Two 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I buy the kind with basil added)
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne
2 cups fresh ricotta1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato puree, water, bay leaf and fennel. Season with pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 30 minutes; discard the bay leaf.
Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked sausage to the pasta, then add 1 cup of the tomato sauce and toss to coat the penne.
Spoon the pasta into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the pasta and dollop large spoonfuls of the ricotta on top. Gently fold some of the ricotta into the pasta; don’t overmix—you should have pockets of ricotta. Scatter the mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the pasta for about 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.
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