Recipe: Cheesy Baked Pasta with Broccolini & Sausage

smitten kitchen for the win — yet again. Almost every recipe of Deb’s that we’ve tried has turned out well. I know I’ve waxed poetic about smitten kitchen before, but it’s true.

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And this baked pasta is no different. Decadent and cheesy, yet surprisingly light. So delicious that F and I couldn’t help having seconds. Nutmeg-y béchamel enrobes pasta, cheesy pockets of mozzarella, and little nuggets of sausage with broccolini on top — what’s not to love?

In all honesty, F prepared this while I was out and about — kudos to him for excellent execution, as always. He makes a mean béchamel and, sauce lover that he is, made a bit more than the original recipe called for. We used caramelized onion sausage, which added a pleasant and subtle sweetness to the dish. Instead of chopping the broccolini (which we used instead of rabe), we lay the stalks whole on top of the pasta before covering everything in parmesan and baking it.

This is basically grown-up mac and cheese, and totally counts as a one-dish meal, though we had some green beans and a salad on the side for good measure. The flavors are reminiscent of broccoli-cheese soup; this is like the deconstructed version. Go make it now, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Broccolini & Sausage (adapted from this recipe; serves 6 generously, or two with lots of leftovers!)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta of choice (we used whole wheat spirals)
  • 2 bundles broccolini (or broccoli rabe or regular broccoli)
  • 1 lb / 450g / 6 pork sausages, casings removed (we used caramelized onion; feel free to use Italian and/or spicy ones)
  • 200g parmesan, grated
  • 250g mozzarella pearls (or large mozzarella balls, chopped)
  • 3 cups milk (we used semi-skimmed)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • to taste: pepper & nutmeg

Procedure

  • Cook the pasta as directed. Five minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccolini to the pot. When everything is done cooking, drain the pasta and set the broccolini aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, remove the sausages from their casings and cook in oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
  • Make the béchamel: Melt butter over medium heat in the pan you cooked the sausages in. Stir the flour into the melted butter until smooth, then cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Season with salt, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg, then let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Combine the pasta, béchamel, sausage, mozzarella, and half the parmesan. Stir and spread into a large baking dish. Arrange the broccolini stalks on top, then sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over everything. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.

Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Recipe: Cheesy Baked Pasta with Broccolini & Sausage

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