Sausage Ragu + Rigatoni

This was one of the easiest baked pasta dishes, and it might seem like a lot of steps and ingredients, don't let that fray you. It was easy, full of flavor, and a good choice for a weeknight meal. I omitted the yellow bell peppers, wanting to save money, and I didn't really think it would heighten the flavor profile. Sorry for the lack of photo, this was one of the few dishes I accidentally burned the cheesy topping! From Cuisine Tonight's Italian, the dish serves 5-6.

GATHER:

  • 8oz dry rigatoni [this may not seem a lot, but it is actually a good portion. I, however, increased it to 12 oz]
  • 12 oz bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • Chopped fresh basil

MAKE:

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Preheat broiler with rack 6 inches from element. 
  2. Brown sausage in oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and onion; cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano, dried basil, and pepper flakes; sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
  3. Deglaze pan with wine; increase heat to high and cook liquid until it nearly evaporates. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer sauce until thickened, 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. 
  4. Transfer pasta to prepared baking dish and top with ragu. Sprinkle mozzarella over ragu. 
  5. Broil pasta until cheese is bubbly, 3-4 minutes. Garnish servings with fresh basil.