Friday, October 25

Baked Penne with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

Our friends just had their first baby and we couldn't be more excited for them. This is the first couple in our L.A. circle to get pregnant and it's been amazing to watch their journey and take notes on the whole experience. Both of their families live out of state, so I decided to whip up a few meals for them to enjoy while mom, dad, and daughter recover from the birth. This pasta is a recent Smitten Kitchen recipe and was perfect since it can feed an army or be frozen and/or reheated without compromising the dish. It's full of gooey cheese and bechamel, pepper broccoli rabe, and crispy nuggets of sausage and is the perfect comfort meal. Note: I made a huge amount so we'd have enough to make two large pans of (one for them, one for us). The recipe can easily be halved for a more standard portion.

Baked Penne with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook 2 lb. of penne pasta 1-2 minutes short of package directions. Five minutes before pasta is done, add in 2 heads of roughly chopped broccoli rabe.*
  • Meanwhile, add 2 lbs. of Italian pork sausage to a skillet, breaking up with the back of the spoon until crumbled.
  • Cook sausage until brown, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  • You should have 2 tbsp. of pork fat left in the pan.** Add in 6 tbsp. of butter and melt, then whisk in 1/2 c. flour until smooth.
  • Slowly whisk in 5 c. milk until smooth and slightly thickened, then add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Let sauce simmer for 8 minutes, or until thickened.
  • Drain pasta and broccoli rabe and toss with the sausage, the bechamel, 1 lb. diced mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese until everything is combined.
  • Divide pasta into two large baking dishes and sprinkle the top with a little extra grated Parmesan.
  • Bake pasta in a 400F oven for 35 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then spoon onto plates. Serve with red chili flakes.

Serves eight
*If you don't have a pot big enough to fit everything, you can use two separate pots or drain the pasta and then do the vegetables. If you can't find broccoli rabe you can substitute broccolini.
**If not, add more butter until you have 2 tbsp.