I am not one to go through the multiple steps of making a pasta and then baking it but once in a while it’s really worth it to get that crusty top and make sure all the flavors combine in the oven. I’ve been thinking of more ways to incorporate dark, leafy greens into dishes. They are so nutritious and delicious! Most of us get in the same rut of using them as a side dish sautéed with garlic or in a stir-fry but there are countless ways to use these vegetables. If you’re a vegetarian, omit the sausage from this recipe. So let’s do it!
Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe
1 LB medium shells, rigatoni, farfalle, or any similar size pasta
1 LB hot Italian sausage, pork or chicken
4oz grated smoked mozzarella
2 TB chili oil, or red chili flakes
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, washed and chopped into 2” pieces
1 15oz can of tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, diced
Take out two medium sized mixing bowls, a large stockpot, and a 12” saute pan or cast iron. Fill the stockpot with salty water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, dice your onions and grate the smoked mozzarella. Once boiling, add the broccoli rabe for 5 minutes or so. Remove with a strainer and add to one of the mixing bowls.
In your cast iron, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sweat your onions for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Then add the sausage. If the sausage are in links, cut through them lengthwise and discard the casing. Brown the sausage and onions but do not overcook. They can be slightly pink in the middle before adding in the can of tomatoes. Bring the pot of water back up to a boil for the pasta. Cook for another 5 minutes or so until the tomatoes have softened and it’s looking like a typical meat sauce. At that point add the broccoli rabe and taste the sauce for salt. Add enough until it’s just right! Cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Once the pasta is done, using the same strainer add the pasta to the tomato sausage broccoli rabe sauce.
Carefully mix the ingredients together in the cast iron, adding in half the mozzarella cheese while mixing. Once it’s well mixed, top the dish with the remainder of the cheese and sprinkle with the chili oil. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 380F for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with a simple green salad and bold red wine.