recently, i had the opportunity to do one of my favorite things: cook a delicious recipe in a beautiful space on a sunny day with a friend. oh! and we both took photos of the food and the process of making it. if that’s not a great day, i don’t know what is.
the delicious recipe in question is one of my favorite winter pastas, this baked pasta with sausage and broccolini. it started off as a smitten kitchen recipe, but then of course i fiddled with it, altering the greens and adding more in the process and (shhh, don’t tell!) toning down the cheese and sausage a bit (no, it’s ok! there’s still plenty of both.).
what results is a cozy and comforting but not overly indulgent dinner that’s perfect in the middle of winter, when we simultaneously want comfort food but also things with green vegetables to remind us that some day – some day – the farmers’ market will have something other than squash on offer.
it also turns out to be the perfect recipe to make while chatting with a friend, since it’s not so complicated that having a conversation means risking ruining dinner. which is key when part of the point of getting together is to photograph the recipe together.
there isn’t a huge market for food blogs featuring gross-looking burnt failures, as it turns out, and i’d hate to waste the talents of one half of the amazing russell caron wedding photography team! liz caron is an in-demand wedding photographer three seasons of the year but luckily for me, winter is a bit quieter for wedding photographers so when she suggested we get together to shoot a recipe, i jumped at the chance!
we got together on a lovely sunny day and despite the distraction of the river running past just outside the huge windows set in a wall of exposed brick (::swoon::), i managed to tear myself away from the view for long enough to throw this baked pasta with sausage and broccolini together.
it was really fun to work with someone else for a change and as liz and i were wrapping up, we talked about getting together again to shoot another recipe. i can’t wait, as some of my favorite memories have been made in a kitchen with friends and a good recipe.
did you make this recipe? i’d love to know what you think of it! leave a comment below and share a picture on instagram with the hashtag #tastyseasons.
this baked pasta with sausage and broccolini is cozy and comforting but not overly indulgent – a perfect middle of winter dinner. enjoy this family favorite recipe!
- 1 pound (16 oz. / 454 g.) short pasta, such as penne
- 2 bunches (7 oz. / 200 g.) broccolini, ends trimmed, stems and florets cut into 1” (2 cm) segments
- 10 oz. (283 g. / 3 links of a 20 oz. package with 6 links) hot italian style turkey sausage, casings removed
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz. / 57 g.) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (1 oz. / 30 g.) flour (i like white whole wheat but all purpose is fine)
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz. / 480 ml) milk (i use skim)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (1 3/4 oz. / 50 g.) grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
- 6 oz. (170 g.) block of part skim mozzarella, diced
- in a large dutch oven (affiliate) (mine is 6.5 quarts) or large oven safe pot (or regular large pot, if yours isn’t oven safe), boil enough water for the pasta and broccolini. add the pasta and 4 minutes before the package says it would be done, add the broccolini and stir to submerge it in the water. after 2 minutes (so, 2 minutes before the pasta package says it would be done), drain the pasta and broccolini. return the pasta and broccolini to the pot and set aside.
- meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. once it’s browned, transfer it to the pot with the drained pasta and broccolini and scrape as many little bits into the bowl as you can, so they don’t burn.
- preheat the oven to 400° F.
- return the saucepan to the heat and melt the butter. once the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour in and stir the butter/flour paste constantly for a minute. add a small amount of the milk and whisk constantly until it’s smooth. add the milk in slowly, whisking the whole time to prevent/break up clumps. once you have about 1/3 – 1/2 of the milk in there and the paste has loosen up into more of a sauce, you can pour the rest of the milk in slowly, continuing to whisk. once the sauce is smooth, add the garlic and nutmeg. lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.
- pour the sauce into the pot with the pasta, broccolini, and sausage. add the grated cheese and the mozzarella. stir to combine everything, but don’t worry if all of the mozzarella isn’t melted yet (it will melt into little pockets of cheesy goodness when the pasta bakes). (if your pot isn’t oven safe, transfer everything to an oven safe casserole dish once it’s combined.) slide the pot into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the top of the baked pasta is golden brown. let cool for a minute or two then serve. leftovers keep well in the refrigerator in an airtight container for several days.
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