My husband and I just had “Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta” (recipe by Melissa Clark), the seventh recipe out of The New York Times Cooking, “One Pot/Pan/Skillet.” This recipe did not disappoint either. It was also a first for me cooking dried pasta in tomato sauce; not boiling water.
For this recipe, you’ll need extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 pound of bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey), garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, a 14 ounce can of crushed or strained tomatoes, bay leaves, 12 ounces of dried pasta (small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta), 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and basil leaves.
The main components for this recipe were purchased at Wegmans. I used Gianelli Turkey Sausage ($5.29/lb.), two cans of Wegmans Italian Classic San Marzano Tomatoes ($3.29), Wegmans Whole Milk Ricotta (8 oz. $2.49), Wegmans Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella (8 oz. $3.99) and fresh basil (2 oz. $2.99). The rest of the ingredients were from my pantry. I chose to use all San Marzano tomatoes as I prefer their taste to that of regular canned tomatoes.
The preparation begins by removing the sausage from its casing, breaking it up and browning it in an oven proof skillet. Next you add the tomatoes and seasoning. After simmering the sauce for 10 minutes, the pasta is added. I used my small scale to weigh off 12 ounces of penne rigate pasta. As the pasta was going in dry, I wanted to be precise with the weight. One cup of water is also added to the tomato sauce and simmered for 2 minutes. You’re instructed to stir frequently to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
After removing the pan from the stovetop, part of the mozzarella is mixed into the pasta. The rest of the mozzarella and spoonfuls of ricotta are added on top. Lastly, top with the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese. The pasta bakes for 18-22 minutes. I found that I had to bake mine for additional 10 minutes until the pasta was al denté. Before serving, top with fresh basil leaves.
My husband usually wants extra sauce with any pasta, but this meal had enough to his liking. The pasta cooked up perfectly. The flavors melded together wonderfully. I prefer the taste of the San Marzano tomatoes as they taste close to tomatoes from the summer. The proportion of cheeses was adequate, it didn’t weigh down the dish or camouflage tomato sauce. This is a terrific weeknight recipe for anyone that wants to get supper on the table in approximately 45 minutes and serves 4. My husband and I really enjoyed this dish. I hope you give it a try.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.