Thursday, November 17, 2005

Of Sausages and Pasta and Other Happy Things

Although the weather was resolutely staying warm, I was in full pre-winter mode, filled with thoughts of pots bubbling away for hours on the stove, filling the house with complex, drool-inducing aromas.

Now, I don’t quite have the time for slow-simmering dishes on a weeknight, but a runner-up is pasta laden with hot Italian sausages, rustic tomato sauce, and a hearty coating of crusted cheeses.

DucCat began to fry the sausages, while I prepared the remaining ingredients. Soon, the water was at a boil, and in practically the time it took to cook the noodles, we were ready to throw the casserole in the oven. Our efforts were richly rewarding.

Baked Ziti with Tomato, Mozzarella & Sausage

recipe from Fine Cooking

olive oil
1 large onion, cut into small dice
4 cloves minced garlic
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casing removed, and crumbled
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup dry red wine
34-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano, or about 2 teaspoons dried
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 pound penne (or ziti)
1 pound fresh mozzarella

Heat oven to 425-degrees, and bring a large pot of water to boil.
In a very large skillet, heat about 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and crumbled sausage, and saute until the sausage begins to brown.
Season with pepper.
If the sausage gives off a lot of fat, pour most off, but be sure to keep a bit for the FLAVA.
Add the red wine and let it boil until mostly gone.
Add tomatoes, with juices, and cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer until sauce thickens slightly. Add oregano and red pepper as this cooks down.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together ricotta, about half or so the grated pecorino, the nutmeg and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well and toss it with the ricotta mixture until well-coated.
Add the sausage and sauce, and mix again. Add the mozzarella and toss gently.
Pour everything into the baking dish, and sprinkle the remaining pecorino on top.
Bake uncovered until lightly browned (or darkly, magnificently browned in spots, as I prefer).

This will take maybe 20-30 minutes.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes- I like to keep it covered with foil so it all remains juicy. Unwrap with flourish, plate it out, and serve with salad.


Blogger MeBeth said...

Yummmmm - I made one like this recently and it was so wintry and tasty (and also great leftover)!

November 17, 2005 10:01 AM  
Blogger ilva said...

looks great and your plates too!

November 17, 2005 1:51 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

That looks so good! Just last night at one of our fave ITalian restos I had a cavetelli dish w/sausage and broccoli rabe and it was amazing! My mom barely had tasted her own dish before she was flying forks into mine :)
I like your version!

November 17, 2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Oh, now I'm craving this wonderful looking fall dish. What ever happened to the pizza daydreams of yesterday? :)

November 17, 2005 6:12 PM  
Blogger s'kat said...

MeBeth, it does indeed make great leftovers. In fact, we usually have so much that we'll freeze a portion, and it does exceptionally well, too.

Thanks, Ilva! The plates are our wedding 'china'. We don't believe in that fancy stuff that sits in a special hutch, and never gets used.

Mmm, Mona, that sounds great! I would KILL for a really good Italian restaurant close to home!

Maureen- pizza whooo??

November 18, 2005 8:05 AM  

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