Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage

published Jul 15, 2021
Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage

There are two smart tricks in this recipe: cooking the broccoli directly in the pasta pot and shaping the sausage into patties.

Serves4

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Credit: Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker

There are two cooking tricks in this recipe. First, tossing the florets into the pasta pot for the last couple of minutes of cooking: It’s efficient, but it also integrates the broccoli into the pasta sauce, as all the florets break up when you drain and toss the pasta. The second trick is shaping the sausage into patties instead of crumbling the sausage into the pan and browning it. You get a deep, browned crust on both sides of the sausage patty, but the interior stays moist. When I finish the dish, I break up the patty, producing crunchy bits, soft bits, tender bits — you get a lot of texture and flavor without overcooking the sausage. The hot pasta water added to the dish finishes off any of the undercooked bits of sausage.

Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons is Kitchn’s July pick for our Cookbook Club. See how you can participate here.

Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage

There are two smart tricks in this recipe: cooking the broccoli directly in the pasta pot and shaping the sausage into patties.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4

    garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound

    sweet or hot Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 ounces

    rigatoni

  • 1 pound

    broccoli, stems trimmed and peeled, stems sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch coins, and tops cut into florets

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    dried chile flakes

  • 1/2 cup

    Whipped Ricotta (see recipe below)

  • About 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1/4 cup

    dried breadcrumbs (optional)

For the Whipped Ricotta:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Put the garlic in a small bowl and pour over enough olive oil to cover. Shape the sausage into 4 balls, then flatten them like a hamburger patty.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea. Add the pasta and cook to just shy of al dente according to the package directions.

  3. Meanwhile, heat a small glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage patties and cook until nicely browned on one side, about 4 minutes.

  4. Add the broccoli coins and the sliced garlic, including the oil, to the skillet. Flip the sausage patties and keep cooking until the sausage is just about fully cooked (it’s okay if it’s a touch pink in the center, because it will continue to cook a bit), another 4 minutes or so. Break up the sausage with a spoon into bite-size chunks. Add the chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds or so.

  5. With a ladle or a measuring cup, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, add it to the pan to stop the cooking of everything, and slide the pan from the heat.

  6. About 3 minutes before the pasta should be al dente (according to the package directions), add the broccoli florets and cook all together until the pasta is ready. Scoop out another cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and broccoli, and add to the skillet.

  7. Return the skillet to the heat. Add 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water, the whipped ricotta, and half the Parmigiano. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Shake the pan to combine the ingredients, put back over medium heat, and cook for a couple of minutes to warm everything through and make a nice saucy consistency.

  8. Serve with more Parmigiano and top with the breadcrumbs (if using).

Whipped Ricotta:

  1. Put the ricotta, salt, and 20 twists of pepper in a food processor and start to process. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Pause and scrape down the sides if needed. The mixture should get lovely and creamy. Taste it and adjust with more salt, pepper, or even a bit more olive oil—you should be able to taste the oil as well as the ricotta. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker.