Cheesy Baked Pasta With Sausage and Ricotta
Like a cross between baked ziti and sausage lasagna, this mozzarella-topped pasta is rich with ricotta and crushed tomatoes — and cooks entirely in one pan, including the pasta. The Italian sausage adds meaty depth to the sauce, but vegetarians can leave it out or use their favorite plant-based sausage instead.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾pound bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
- 4garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1teaspoon dried oregano
- ½teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
- Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
- 1(28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
- 1(14-ounce) can crushed or strained tomatoes
- 2bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- 12ounces dried pasta, such as small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta
- 8ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- 6ounces whole-milk ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
- ⅓cup grated Parmesan
- ¼cup basil leaves
- Black pepper, for serving
Step 1Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Crumble sausage into skillet, using a spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes (if using), and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 2Stir in whole tomatoes and their juice, using a spoon to break them up. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
Step 3Stir in pasta and 1 cup water and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, pluck out the bay leaves, and fold in about a third of the mozzarella.
Step 4Top pasta with remaining mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then transfer to oven. Bake until pasta is tender when poked with a fork, and cheese is bubbly and lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes. (If you’d like a more deeply browned topping, run the pan under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Top with basil, plenty of black pepper, and more red-pepper flakes, if you like.