Quick Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

by Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

Cherry blossoms and Magnolia trees are in bloom and the days are getting longer, but April is a fickle month. Hail, rain storms, warm temperatures, chilly nights, it can be downright confusing. Do I carry an umbrella with me at all times or do I layer up so that I can quickly layer down when the sun starts beaming down?

And while I'm gladly stuffing my face with asparagus at any opportunity, I'm also taking comfort in a baked bowl of this pasta & sausage dish. I had seen this recipe a while back over at Smitten Kitchen, but felt that making my own meatballs and bechamel sauce would be just too much. While I'm well versed in making bechamel sauce (it was my job to always whisk the sauce as a young girl cooking with my mom), making meatballs isn't something that I love to do. So I went with a shortcut and used sausage. It's perfect because it's already seasoned and when it's sliced and then cooked, it turns into a little meatball of sausage!

I also added in some homemade leftover tomato sauce to help cut the richness. Don't want to use sausage? Try some meaty sliced & sauteed portabello mushrooms instead and go ahead and add in your favorite spices and herbs. Vegan? Trade the dairy for soy milk and vegan margarine, skipping the cheese.

The result was exactly what I was looking for - as comforting as a warm hug (which is coincidentally what I got from my husband when I made this).

Quick Baked Rigatoni with Sausage
(inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

4 spicy Italian sausages
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced

bechamel sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
pinch nutmeg
salt & pepper

500 gram bag of rigatoni or other short pasta
1 cup tomato sauce (from a jar or homemade)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Slice raw sausages into 1 inch bits and fry in a non stick skillet over med-high heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until the sausage is done, about 15 - 20 minutes. Set aside.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain and set aside.

3. In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. When bubbling, add in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in milk, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well between each addition until smooth. Add in salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400F. Pour the sausage mixture into the pasta and pour in half of the bechamel mixture. Stir well to coat. Butter a 9x13" baking dish and add in the pasta/sausage mixture. Pour over the remaining bechamel sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Jan Halvarson


Kristen said...

That looks goooood! ;)

Unknown said...

sausage, pasta, cheese and sauce -- one of my favorite combos -- you can't go wrong! i love to add a little broccoli rabe for bite. never tried it with bechamel sauce but am inspired to now...

Jessie said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

look so very delicious !
love cheese <3

shellie said...

how can you go wrong with anything that has bechamel!

Beth said...

Oooh. Looks yummy.

I hate making meatballs too! And yet I make them, because the are tooo worth it.

Although I recently discovered that if you make a meatloaf with meatball ingredients (and cover it in marinara and mozzarella), it's just as tasty with way less work. You should try it!

Anonymous said...

YUMMY! I going to make this tonight for dinner!

Unknown said...

That looks great. I love it when my husband falls in love with something I make for him. It makes me feel on top of the world.

Amie said...

Oh wow, this looks delicious. I might just have to whip this up tonight...It was sunny when I woke up but now the clouds have rolled in and it's due to rain any minute.

nancy monsebroten said...

What I really responde to other then the great sounding recipe is the word Quick!!!

Joanne said...

Yum - I'll be taking the meatless route but bechamel is always a favourite of mine so I'll go overboard on the butter and cheese. The weather here has been fickle too but I'm looking forward to a weekend of + 20 degrees and sunny skies.

Southern Lady's Vintage said...

Mmmmm.....sounds and looks good!

Rowena said...

I make a similar penne alla vodka, w garlic, vodka (or not) tomato sauce, cream, pepper flakes, parmesan, maybe mushrooms, a titch of butter at the end, then sausage or bacon crisped and put on top.

It's one of my favorite dishes. Oh yeah, sometimes I add some diced or shredded mozzarella near the end. yummy

angela said...

this actually made me so hungry that i made myself pasta! hehe such comfort food... love carbs :)

Melissa said...

This is one of my fave comfort foods: baked pasta with meat. Thanks for posting! It actually snowed here in Ottawa this week, and today I have the doors open on the balcony - go figure!

~Heather said...

When do you add the tomato sauce? Do you add it to the bechamel sauce or to the sausages when they're cooking? Thanks! ~H

kickpleat said...

Ooops, thanks Heather for pointing my error! Add the tomato sauce in with the sausage, pasta and bechamel mixture.

sundaymornings said...

thanks for sharing the recipe!
btw, i adore that bowl...may i ask what brand it is? it reminds me of vintage pyrex.