Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

Now that it's spring and the weather is getting warmer, you're probably looking for lighter recipes to make. But I guarantee that this baked pasta dish is the perfect thing to help warm you up on those inevitable cold and rainy nights.

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone | Taste As You Go
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

Right now, the sun is trying to fight its way through the clouds and the last of the winter snow has finally started to melt. It feels like spring and I've noticed a marked change in my mood and energy level. I've even started running again after work!

So... it's not surprising that I feel a little hesitant to share this recipe for Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone with you today. Then I remembered that spring isn't without its chilly nights, and this dish would make the perfect meal to warm the bellies of your loved ones.

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone | Taste As You Go
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

I used spicy Italian sausage since I had a package of it in our freezer, but you could easily use sweet sausage or chicken sausage instead. Since they were on sale at the market, I used cremini mushrooms, but, again, you could use button mushrooms or a mixture of the two depending on your personal preference. Don't be afraid to adjust the recipe to fit your tastes!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone | Taste As You Go
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

You could even add some vegetables to the casserole, like peas or broccoli florets, to give the dish some color and a little more texture. Or skip the sausage completely and up the amount of mushrooms to make the dish a vegetarian one. That's the beauty of casseroles -- they're incredibly forgiving and versatile.

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone | Taste As You Go
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

To give the casserole a lovely golden crust, add a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese to the top before baking. You could forego the breadcrumbs, but I actually think they added something special to the dish. But I may be biased... I have a love for meals with contrasting textures. ;-)

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone | Taste As You Go
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone

And see? The mascarpone adds just enough creaminess to the pasta without overwhelming it or making it too heavy. So feel free to eat a huge bowl of it for dinner and then another huge bowl of it for lunch the next day!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Mascarpone
Total Time: 45 minutes | Yield: 6 servings | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 8 pounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni (or other short pasta)
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until slightly smoking. Add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  3. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the sausage and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the mascarpone, milk, and chopped parsley. Stir to mix well and continue to cook until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  6. Once the water has started boiling, salt the water and add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. It should still retain a slightly raw bite in the center. Reserve a small cup of pasta water, and then drain the pasta.
  7. Return the pasta to the pot. Toss with the sausage and mushroom mixture. If the sauce is too thick, then add a bit of the pasta water to loosen.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the oil into the crumbs with your fingertips.
  9. Transfer the pasta to a 13x9-inch baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Bake until the pasta is bubbly and golden brown on the top, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler | Taste As You Go // Adapted from Serious Eats

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