Monday, December 29, 2008

Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage

Here's a scaled-down (for 4-6 people) version of what I made the other night for our BIG x-mas gift night extravaganza:

1lb pasta (penne, ziti, or any small tube shape)
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 pound fresh Italian sausage (casings removed)
8-12 oz Fresh Ricotta cheese
8-12 oz Fresh Mozzarella cheese, grated.
1 onion
1 big can of good crushed tomatoes
1 egg
1 jar roasted red peppers, rough-chopped.
a couple of cloves of garlic, minced.
red wine for cooking (I like to cook with pinot noir - not too tanic for cooking)

For ricotta mixture:
Blend chopped herbs, 1/2 of the minced garlic and egg in a bowl.

For Sauce:
Heat saute pan large enough to make sauce.
Brown/cook sausage and remove temporarily.
Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving a bit as well as the brown goodness.
Add a T of olive oil to the pan.
Add onions and saute until translucent.
Add the rest of the garlic and saute briefly.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 bottle of red wine. Reduce by half-ish.
Add roasted red peppers.
Add can of tomatoes.
Return sausage to sauce.
Add S&P to taste.
Add wine/water as needed (sauce should be a little some liquid will cook off in the oven)
Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Assemble the dish:
Put very aldente pasta in 9x13 pan
Add large spoonfuls of cheese mixture to the pasta and toss lightly, leaving some bigger blobs of cheese.
Pour sauce evenly over pasta and cheese mixture and cover with mozzarella.
Bake in a 350 oven for 20-30 minutes and remove when cheese on top is bubbly.


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