Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragù
your favorite sausage (chicken or pork, sweet or hot), removed from the casings
yellow onion, diced
fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
fresh or canned chopped tomatoes (preferably Pomi)
fresh basil leaves
Soft butter, for the baking dish
short pasta (such as penne or small shells)
cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
In Food52 A New Way to Dinner, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs present their fresh take on weeknight cooking and utilizing leftovers.
I went to college in Providence, Rhode Island, and Al Forno’s baked pasta is the best I’ve come across. I’ve leaned on their technique many times, adding everything from butternut squash to mushrooms to asparagus. My kids’ favorite version has sausage, three kinds of cheese, and enough heavy cream to make Julia Child blush. The crisp, burnished top is perfection.
- To make the ragù, warm the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
- Clear a spot in the middle of the pan and add the onion and a couple pinches of salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes and basil and simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, at least 45 minutes. (Add a little water if the sauce looks dry.) Taste and adjust the seasoning and discard the basil. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- The day of: Heat the oven to 500°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large bowl, combine the 4 cups ragù with the heavy cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta, and salt.
- Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, then drain and run it under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the pasta to the bowl, tossing gently to combine.
- Spread the pasta evenly into the baking dish. Scatter the cubed butter over the top.
- Bake until bubbly and brown, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Reserve half for later in the week— right in the baking dish, or transfer to a container.
Reprinted with permission from FOOD52 A New Way to Dinner by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit James Ransom © 2016.