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Rigatoni & Spicy Sausage Casserole
Kathleen Desmond Stang
“Mushrooms have the perfect meaty texture to complement a modest amount of spicy Italian sausage in this baked rigatoni that has less than one-quarter the fat of the original. Whole-wheat pasta rather than white pasta makes our version a fiber powerhouse with 7 grams per serving. This delicious and cheesy pasta casserole freezes well so you might want to make an extra to have on hand for a ready-to-heat-and-eat meal.”
4 ounces hot Italian sausage, (2 links)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, or plum tomatoes (chopped)
¼ cup dry red or white wine
½ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ounces whole-wheat rigatoni, mostaccioli or penne
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Tip)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 3-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2Crumble sausage into a large nonstick skillet (discard casing) and cook over medium heat, stirring, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
3Wipe out the pan and add oil; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and rosemary; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes (and their juices), wine and the cooked sausage. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. (The sauce will be quite thin.) Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.
4Meanwhile, cook pasta until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
5Add the pasta to the sauce; toss to coat. Spread half in the prepared baking dish. Dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and top with the remaining pasta. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
6Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a small bowl. Season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the pasta and continue to bake, uncovered, until the top is golden, about 10 minutes more.
Tip: To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about ½ cup fresh crumbs.