This gooey baked pasta is inspired by the classic combo of broccoli rabe and sausage. It's delicious, comforting and super adaptable, too. Don't like broccoli rabe? Use regular broccoli or kale! Vegetarian? Use a plant-based meat crumble! There are many ways to make this recipe your own, so get cooking!
1poundsweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
24ouncesjar marinara sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1poundrigatoni or other short pasta
1poundbroccoli rabe, chopped
1poundmozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
2/3cupfinely grated parmesan cheese
Basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large, deep, ovenproof skillet or braiser pan, cook the sausage in the olive oil over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until nicely browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
In a pot of boiling water, cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the package suggests. Add the broccoli rabe and cook with the pasta for 1 minute. Scoop out ¾ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta and broccoli rabe to the pot. Fold in the sauce, heavy cream, reserved pasta water, and half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Transfer the mixture to the skillet or braiser pan and scatter the remaining cheeses on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbling and browned. Let stand for a few minutes, then garnish with basil and serve.