You too can witness the melty stretch of mozzarella as you lift up a scoop of sausage and kale pasta bake, thanks to Food Republic’s chamber of culinary wonder: our Test Kitchen. When we’re not centrifuging and sous-viding stuff (note: we have never done this), we’re throwing together comfort food dishes like this homestyle rigatoni casserole full of the stuff we were just going to make separately anyway.
Casseroles are my absolute favorite way to feed a lot of people when it’s cold. Now by casserole I by no means am implying that cream of some canned soup is involved in any way. They’re just nice big dishes of baked stuff. I make one using tons of squash layered with cheese that encourages folks to eat just as much squash as cheese. That’s the beauty of most great casseroles: a lot of cheese.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bunch kale, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup good-quality parmesan, coarsely grated
- 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
- coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat until just cooked through, then remove to a layer of paper towels to drain using a slotted spoon.
- Drain off the liquid, then return skillet to the stove and heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the kale and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, boil the water for the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and return to pot.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, half the parmesan and half the mozzarella. Add kale and mix thoroughly.
- Combine ricotta mixture with the pasta in the pot, stir in sausage, then transfer to a large casserole dish.
- Evenly sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan over the top, then bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown and crisp.
- Let rest for 20 minutes, then serve. Maybe with super-easy step-by-step garlic bread?
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