Do you ever whip up a dish, devour it and then want to recreate the recipe ASAP? That’s what happened on Sunday, when I prepared this baked rigatoni with sausage and bell peppers to share with my parents (who just returned from a trip to Egypt) and a fellow foodie.
Everyone, including myself, enjoyed it. After all, what’s not to love about pasta tossed with pork, sautéed veggies, tomato cream sauce and two kinds of cheese?
Although it may not be the healthiest meal, baked rigatoni with sausage and bell peppers is worth every calorie. For a little extra oomph, add a pinch of dried chili flakes to the mix. Feeding meat eaters? Double up on the sausage. The recipe is forgiving, so feel free to customize it.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma.
- 1 pound rigatoni
- ⅔ pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casing
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar and Gruyère mélange cheese (see notes)
- ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
- In the same pot used to cook the pasta, brown sausage over medium heat, breaking it into bite-size pieces with a spoon. Once sausage is browned, transfer to bowl with pasta and toss to combine.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add fennel seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with pasta and sausage.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes.
- Add sugar and red wine vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add pasta mixture and cheddar and Gruyère mélange cheese to pot and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a greased 9"x13" baking dish, or a greased 9" square baking dish and a small oven-safe bowl.
- Top with Asiago cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.