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Recipes From Under the Tuscan Sun

Everyday Italian cooking made simple

Recipes from Under the Tuscan Sun: Baked Pasta with Sausage

Baked pasta with sausage tempts the eyes as well as the taste buds. — Courtesy Steven Rothfeld

Baked Pasta With Sausage and Four Cheeses

Serves 4 to 6

With the bread oven hot, we slide many different dishes across the brick floor—focaccia, pork loins and, of course, baked pastas. Ed adapted this recipe for kitchen use. We’ve served this at a hundred casual suppers. I don’t think there’s a better pasta.

For this most robust pasta, our local wine seller, Marco Molesini, recommends a Super Tuscan, such as Guidalberto from Bolgheri, made by Tenuta San Guido of Sassicaia fame.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for the baking dish
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, meat cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, meat cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 cup soffritto (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 tomatoes or 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, juice included, chopped
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) whole-milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces fontina or taleggio, cubed
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bring the pasta water to a boil and add salt.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat and cook the sausage, breaking it up as it browns, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine, turn the heat up to boil, and cook until much of the liquid has reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the oregano, soffritto, seasonings, and tomatoes along with their juices. Simmer the sauce for at least 10 minutes, or until thick and savory.

Cook the rigatoni a minute less than the time required on the package (since it will continue cooking in the oven), then drain, reserving a bit of the pasta water.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta with the fontina and a splash of the pasta water, then add the drained rigatoni and continue mixing. Add the sausage mixture and mozzarella, tossing to mix well.

Oil a 9-by 13-inch baking dish, and then pour in the pasta. Sprinkle the Parmigiano and breadcrumbs on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until golden flecked and hot.

For the Soffritto

Makes 1 cup


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


Sauté the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until they begin to color and turn tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Adapted from The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes From the Italian Kitchen, 2012, Random House, NY.

You may also like: Grandmother's flan recipe.

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