In Italy, pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage is a popular dish. We transformed these classic flavours into an easy, yet elegant, casserole. Our flavour choices were traditional: sweet Italian sausage, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and a bit of anchovy for an umami backbone. A rich, creamy sauce with two cheeses was the perfect way to round out our dish. Broccoli cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces can be substituted for the broccoli rabe.
BAKED ZITI WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (Active time 55 minutes)
1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 pound ziti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped fine
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Add broccoli rabe and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli rabe to ice water and let cool, about 2 minutes; drain and pat dry.
Return pot of water to boil, add pasta, and cook, stirring often, until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta in colander and toss with 1 tablespoon oil; leave in colander and set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 F. Dry now-empty pot and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot, add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, cream, and wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
Off heat, gradually whisk 1 cup fontina and 1/2 cup Parmesan into sauce until cheese is melted and sauce in smooth. Stir in lemon juice, broccoli rabe, pasta, and sausage, breaking up any clumps. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer pasta mixture to 13-by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup fontina and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Place baking dish on aluminum foil—lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden and bubbling around edges, 25 to 35 minutes. Let casserole cool for 20 minutes before serving.