I love a good pasta bake. Meat, pasta, cheese and veg are always a good pairing. We have a lot of Italian sausage at home thanks to the caribou we got this year. With all the intense flavors in this dish I am surprised how well it came together.
- 1 pound sausage
- 1 pound broccoli
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 tbsp chicken broth
- 1/2 pound shell pasta
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 3oz butter
- 5 tbsp flour
- 3 cups milk
- 4 oz cheese
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
Mince the onion and grate or mince the garlic cloves.
Cut the broccoli in small florets.
Heat a drop of oil and cook the onions, over medium heat, for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add 2 tsp oregano and 1 tsp dried parsley to the onions. Cook for an additional minute to get the flavors going.
Add the sausage and break it up with a spatula. Cook over low to medium heat, until it starts to lose its rawness.
In the mean time we’ll cook the pasta. I opted for Pipe Rigate, but you can use any type of shell pasta for this. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package.
If there’s a lot of fat coming out of the sausage, drain it. Yes, all of it (glares). Add the broccoli and cook for a few minutes while stirring. Spoon in 4 tbsp chicken (or vegetable broth), pop the lid on and simmer the meat and broccoli over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Time to whip up the sauce. Heat 3 oz butter and add 5 slightly heaping tbsp flour. Cook for a minute to neutralize the rawness of the flour.
Pour in 2 cups of milk and keep a third cup nearby. Bring the sauce to a boil while gently stirring. Bit by bit, add the third cup of milk until you reach a consistency you like. I usually go for a full 3 cups.
Spike the sauce with 2 tsp Dijon mustard and add salt to taste—I’ve added 1 tsp salt, just keep in mind we’ll also be adding cheese! Let the sauce simmer, over very low heat, for a few minutes.
The pasta and meat should be done by now. Drain the pasta and remove the meat from the stove.
Finish the sauce with pepper, a good pinch of cayenne and the grated cheese. You can use Parmesan, Gouda, Gruyere or even cheddar for this. Any type of cheese you like. Or be adventurous and mix two types of cheese.
Now either add the pasta to the meat & broccoli in the pan, or transfer things to an oven dish and mix it there. Your call.
Pour the sauce all over.
Put the pasta in a preheated oven and bake at 400F (200C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Until bubbly hot and golden brown on top.