Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta & Mozzarella

CheesyBakedPasta1

Spring is on the way, and there’s nothing I love to cook more than fresh greens. Broccoli rabe is one of my favorites, also known as cime di rapa (meaning “turnip tops”), rapini, broccoli di rapa and broccoletti in Italy. The young leaves of the plant are used in cooking along with the clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. The flavor of the vegetable is slightly nutty, bitter and pungent and has tons of vitamin A, potassium, calcium and iron, with its peak season from fall to spring.

Broccoli Rabe


I decided to incorporate it into a cheesy baked pasta dish made with fresh sweet Italian sausage and three cheeses (ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella), along with some fun mushroom flavored pasta, tossed in truffle oil. I picked up some fresh broccoli rabe at the farmers market and sautéed it with some garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil until aromatic, then tossed it into a big casserole dish with the pasta, cheeses and a dash of nutmeg and lemon zest, and baked it into a big pot of golden bubbly brown goodness.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe-Sausage

Pasta

Ready for Oven

The dish is a perfect light one-pot dish, and is  superb served with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping. Andiamo a mangiare!

Baked Pasta Dish

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, chopped into large pieces
1 pound of pasta (dried ziti or penne, or chunky pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 pound ground sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) container whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg, whisked
A dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
Fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x13” or 10” round casserole dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up an ice bath in a large bowl to the side. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 minute and immediately remove and plunge into ice bath to cool for another few minutes. Pat dry and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and let cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking, while reserving ¼ cup of hot pasta water. Toss with white truffle oil and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute or two, until soft and aromatic. Add the broccoli rabe and toss with olive oil, add salt and heat through. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat more olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 3-5 minutes until soft and light golden brown. Add ground sausage and cook until browned, drain off any excess fat.

Return the cooked pasta and broccoli rabe into the large sauté pan with the sausage and onion mixture.

Toss the ricotta cheese with whisked egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cooked pasta, broccoli rabe and sausage-onion mixture in the large sauté pan, mixing ingredients together well. Stir in ¼ cup of pasta water to make a light sauce.

Place the pasta mixture into the greased casserole dish. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

Serve with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping.

Serves 8.

Garlicky Greens and Beans with Sausage

Garlicky Greens & Beans with Sausage

Garlicky Greens and Beans

On a recent trip up to Rochester, I had the pleasure of discovering a lovely little Italian place called the Mona Lisa Café. My mother and I stopped in there on a whim one afternoon for a cappuccino, but after entering the café and seeing all the delicious pastries and gelato and enticing smells of amazing food, we decided to stay for lunch instead.

We sat at a table by a large window and enjoyed a glass of wine while perusing the menu. At first we thought we would just split an appetizer, but there were just too many tasty choices on the menu to settle for just one item. We opted for a delicious Italian Panini and their amazing Greens and Beans appetizer made with escarole and cannelloni beans sautéed with heaps of garlic, savory Italian sausage, white wine, olive oil and bread crumbs topped with Parmesan cheese. WOW. Best thing I’ve ever tasted! I loved this dish so much I was inspired to recreate it at home, and my own version of Garlicky Greens and Beans with Sausage I now present to you. Delicioso!


Garlicky Greens and Beans with Sausage

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or chunks
  • 1 1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage (may use chicken or turkey sausage if you prefer)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced or chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch of greens (I used collards, but you can use spinach, kale, escarole, or mustard/turnip greens)
  • 1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Crusty bread or garlic bread, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain potatoes, cut into quarters or chunks, depending on the size.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes for about 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. At the same time, add 1/2 inch of water to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausages to and cover with a lid, simmering for 10 minutes (without turning). Remove the lid, turn sausages over, and cook for another 5 minutes until almost cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, measure out your liquids and dry seasonings and set aside.
  5. Chop the garlic.
  6. Wash the greens well and drain. Remove and discard the veins and stems, cutting leafy green parts off on either side into 1-inch strips.
  7. Remove sausages from pan and cut into coin-sized chunks. Drain fat from pan and wipe down.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of oil into the same pan and return to medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute while stirring often, for about 1 minute being careful not to burn garlic.
  9. Add additional 3 tablespoons of oil and start sauteing greens by the handful until they are just starting to wilt.
  10. Add cannellini beans, sausage, potatoes, broth, water and minced onion; bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  11. Remove lid, add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the liquid reduces a little (you can simmer it down longer if you like a thicker stew or add more broth/water if you like a thinner stew).
  12. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve the Greens and Beans in large bowls topped with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and crusty bread for dipping in the broth.
  14. Delicioso!

Notes

Substitute sweet Italian sausage with chicken or turkey sausage or omit all together and adjust water/broth down to 2 cups if you prefer a vegetarian dish.

Mona Lisa Cafe uses breadcrumbs and white wine in their dish which I omitted in my version because of the starch from the potatoes and adding a splash of white wine vinegar which gives it a nice tangy flavor to the broth. Feel free to experiment by topping it with toasted breadcrumbs and using some wine in place of the water in my recipe, but you'll need to adjust the amount of liquids down if you omit the potatoes from the dish so it's not too watery/brothy. The consistency should be of a nice light stew with a balance between the meat and vegetables and the broth.

Serve with a dry white Italian wine such as Pinot Grigio and crusty bread for dipping up the broth.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/04/16/garlicky-greens-and-beans-with-sausage/

Garlicky Greens and Beans

Other recipes you might enjoy:

Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

White Bean and Escarole Soup with Meatballs

Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta

Greens and Beans with Sausage

All photographs, copy and content on this post and website are copyright © 2010-2016 Kristen Hess Styling & Photography and The Artful Gourmet. Please do not use, share or distribute in any way without my expressed permission granted or at least with a link back to my original blog post with credit to me. Thanks!

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