BAKED RIGATONI WITH BROCCOLI
Adapted from “Hot & Cheesy” by Clifford A. Wright (Wiley, $22.99)
• 8 oz. rigatoni
• 1 1/4 lb. broccoli, stems and florets separated
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing casserole
• 3 tbsp. flour
• 2 c. hot whole milk
• 3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
• 1/4 c. dried breadcrumbs
• Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add rigatoni; cook 6 minutes. Cut the broccoli stems into 1-inch pieces. Add stems to the pot with the pasta; cook, 2 minutes. Add florets; cook about 5 minutes longer. (Never cook broccoli longer than 7 minutes.) Drain pasta and broccoli; transfer to a bowl.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; pour in milk slowly, whisking all the time. Return to heat; add Parmesan cheese. Cook until thicker, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.
Add the mozzarella and half the sauce to the rigatoni and broccoli; toss. Pour into a buttered 10-inch casserole dish; spread evenly. Spoon remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake until golden and crispy on top, about 20 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 695 Fat 31 g Sodium 936 mg
Carbohydrates 66 g Saturated fat 18 g
Protein 36 g Cholesterol 79 mg Dietary fiber 5 g
RUSTIC POLENTA CASSEROLE WITH SAUSAGE
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from “The Make-Ahead Cook” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen ($26.95). Can be made up to 24 hours ahead.
• 5 c. water
• 1 1/3 c. whole milk
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided, plus more to taste
• 1 c. coarse ground polenta
• 1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 oz.)
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
• 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
• 8 oz. baby spinach
• 1 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 oz.)
Heat water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Very slowly pour polenta into boiling liquid while stirring constantly in a circular motion with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer; partially cover and cook, stirring often and making sure to scrape bottom and sides of pot clean. Cook until polenta no longer has a raw cornmeal taste, all liquid has been absorbed and mixture has a smooth, uniform consistency but is very loose, about 15 minutes.
Remove polenta from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and butter; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour polenta into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish; cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
While polenta cools, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon into large chunks, until meat is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes and tomatoes; cook until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, 1 handful at a time, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Spread cooled sausage mixture over cooled polenta. If not baking right away, wrap dish tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate up to 24 hours.
To finish, unwrap dish and cover tightly with greased aluminum foil. Bake in a 400-degree oven until hot throughout and bubbling at edges, about 30 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle casserole with mozzarella. Bake uncovered until cheese melts, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per serving of 8:
Calories 445 Fat 24 g Sodium 1,438 mg
Carbohydrates 36 g Saturated fat 11 g Protein 21 g Cholesterol 54 mg Dietary fiber 5 g