Pasta Rustica

Nick went on and on about Pasta Rustica for quite some time. I, being the ignorant non-Italian, had no idea what Pasta Rustica was. So, when I put it on the weekly menu, I needed a starting point. I turned to his family cookbook and grabbed his Aunt Denise's recipe.

Making up the weekly grocery list, I realized that almost all of the ingredients were what we consider pantry items, so we actually didn't need anything for this recipe. I already liked it. Any recipe that can be made with easily found on hand pantry staples is one I love. I do like to experiment with odd ingredients and ethnic cuisines, but there is definitely something to be said for pantry recipes. I love to have these types of recipes as fall backs in case I'm stuck late at work or realize that I forgot an ingredient for another recipe I was planning to make.

And especially one this delicious. The creaminess of the cheeses, the spicy flavors of the sausage and  topped with sauce tastes like a crispy version of lasagna, but so much easier to prepare. It also freezes well, so don't let any of those leftovers go to waste!

Pasta Rustica
serves 6-8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed (we used Nick's homemade pork sausage)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes in puree (tomatoes coarsely chopped and puree reserved)
salt, to taste
1 lb. penne pasta
1 1/4 c. ricotta cheese (we used re-hydrated Ricotta Salata)
2 c. Landana Mild Goat Cheese**
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large dutch oven, over medium heat, warm oil. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up into bite size pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes with puree and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10-12 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Lightly oil a baking dish*.

Cook the pasta until barely al dente and drain well.

In a large bowl, toss pasta with sauce, ricotta and the goat cheese. Spread in a prepared baking and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano. Bake until cheeses are melted and tips of pasta are crusty (about 30 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*We used one 9" x 9" baking dish and one smaller dish to freeze for a later meal. If you are making all of it at once, I recommend a 9" x 12" dish.

** This was a mild, semi-soft goat's cheese with a rich, buttery flavor.

2 lovely comments:

  1. I love pasta rustica... such a soul warming dish!

  2. It is yummy. I'm so glad Nick introduced me to it.