This hearty and delicious baked pasta with sausage and ricotta is a wonderful meal, with tons of flavour and just enough cheese to satisfy!
I have mentioned before that I live in a small town, so my regular grocery stores are ... well, small town grocery stores :) Things take a little longer to show up here. One of the new things that has me excited lately, is the appearance of store-made loose sausage. With a variety of flavours, I can kick that removing the sausage from the casing thing to the curb at last!
The other nice thing about loose sausage is that I can buy two varieties and combine them in one dish. Like this dish, where I used a combination of mild and hot Italian sausage. It satisfies both my heat-loving husband and my a-little-but-not-a-lot heat loving self.
For this baked pasta dish, the sausage is browned and then combined with a super quick tomato sauce. It all gets combined with cooked rigatoni and finished with dollops of a ricotta and mozzarella cheese topping. Then 30 minutes in the oven and dinner is served. Lovely served with crusty bread and a salad.
I think I say this a lot, but it's worth repeating for this dish. Seasoning is everything! Be sure to add salt and pepper to the ricotta mixture and to the tomato sauce in healthy doses. It really brings out the flavours here!
You don't have to use just one kind of sausage here. Use a mixture of mild and hot sausage, or change it up completely and use loose chorizo sausage instead!
Like most baked pasta dishes, the re-heated leftovers are almost better than when it's freshly cooked. So make a big skillet and enjoy from the fridge.
Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta
- 1 lb loose mild and/or hot Italian sausage, (or fresh sausage, removed from casing)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 28 oz can whole tomatoes , (San Marzano recommended), hand crushed
- 6 leaves fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups dried rigatoni pasta
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
- 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, for topping
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add rigatoni and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- On the stove-top, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add loose sausage and cook, stirring regularly, until cooked through and browned in spots. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- To the same skillet, over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring until softened. Add garlic and cook and additional 30-45 seconds. Add the hand-crushed tomatoes, chopped basil leaves and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add sausage back to the skillet and cook a few minutes, to blend the flavours and warm the sausage again. Turn off heat and let stand until pasta is ready.
- When pasta is cooked, add to the skillet with the tomato sauce and sausage. Stir to combine. Spoon dollops of the ricotta mixture randomly on top. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.