Golden brown and bubbling, this dish is welcome at the table any time of year — but it’s especially suited for a casual, intimate meal with friends and family. Sweet Italian sausage, colorful peppers and fragrant fennel add heft to this one-pan baked pasta. A touch of cream finishes the dish and rounds out the tangy tomato sauce.
Baked Rigatoni with Fennel, Sausage & Pepperonata
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 lb. (500 g.) rigatoni
1 fennel bulb
3/4 lb. (350 g.) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1 each red, yellow and orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 cup (8 oz./250 ml.) prepared tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.) heavy cream
2 cups (8 oz./250 g.) shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch (24-by-33-cm.) baking dish.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7-8 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Remove and discard the stalks and core from the fennel bulb and dice the bulb. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the crumbled sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, stirring until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add to the bowl with the pasta.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, along with the bell peppers and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are tender with a bit of a bite, 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar and continue cooking until the vinegar has reduced to a syrup, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cream and cook, stirring, until lightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the pasta, add the fontina and stir well.
Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared dish and top with the Parmesan. Bake until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling around the sides, 10-15 minutes. Serve directly from the dish. Serves 6.
Find more simple one-dish dinners in our cookbook One Pot of the Day by Kate McMillan.