{This post is sponsored by Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe, I used their Broccoli Rabe to make a cozy pasta bake that’s the perfect winter meal!}

Who agrees that Sunday pasta bakes are a must?

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Typically around here Sunday night dinner is a little more chill than most other nights, so if all the family is around it’s the perfect night to sit down with everyone and eat a delicious dinner. Oddly, today is one of those Sundays. All of the family is in town after a busy weekend, so I am really excited to be making this bake, because it’s the perfect meal to please everyone.

As you guys may know, I have some seriously picky eaters in my family and it’s hard to come up with a meal that everyone will enjoy. If there’s one type of recipe that’s always a safe bet, it’s a baked pasta, especially baked pasta with spicy Italian meat sauce and lots of cheese on top…aka lasagna the easy way…aka a Gerard family favorite!

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is to have some kind of red sauce simmering on the stove. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason it just epitomizes Sunday to me. I love the smells, the warmth the stove gives off (seriously)…and the all-around comfort it brings to the house. Not to mention the delicious dinner it’s going to make.

When I do any kind of pasta bake, I always love to sneak in some kind of vegetable. Not gonna lie, my family can be seriously tricky when it comes to sneaking in veggies, especially those of the green kind. When I first started cooking, I would get really sneaky and puree vegetables like pumpkin and butternut squash, but within the last year the fam has started expanding their palates and trying some new veggies. Meaning, I can sometimes get away with using green food in my recipes. YES, finally they are learning!

I still have to be cautious with exactly what kind of vegetables I use and how they are prepared. They are still not fans of raw veggies, in any way, but roasted is OK. So for this pasta bake I roasted up some broccoli rabe and mixed it in with all the yummy sauce and pasta. I was curious to see what everyone would think of the roasted broccoli rabe, but you know? They loved it, and everyone agreed that this pasta bake is delicious…veggies and all.

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

So here’s how this recipe works. Start out by making the sauce, which is just like a classic lasagna sauce, but can be made a little quicker if you’re short on time. If you do have time though, simmer the sauce all day long and then throw everything together before serving. If you’d like to make this ahead, you can assemble the pasta dish in advance and then bake right before serving. So really, you can make this recipe work whether you’re short on time, need to plan in advance, or have all day to let it cook. Gotta love a versatile recipe!

This is one of my new go-to’s, it’s easy to make and everyone loves it! Excited to see what my oldest brother, who is not normally in town, thinks of this dish…he’s a huge fan of Italian, so I’m thinking he’s going to love it!

Oh, and super important…a side of garlic bread! Because I mean, it’s Sunday and we all just need a little carby comfort food! Yes, please!

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Print

Rigatoni and Broccoli Rabe Bake.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe ends trimmed + roughly chopped into bite size
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt + pepper
  • 3 ounces pancetta chopped (optional, but adds great flavor)
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes drained + chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup red wine (or water)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese torn
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue or goat cheese or your favorite!

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the broccoli rabe on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until the broccoli rabe is roasted + crisp, about 10-15 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is tender crisp. Remove from the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a heavy bottomed pot, cook the pancetta over medium heat, stirring until the pancetta is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Push the veggies off to the side of the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the center of the pan and crumble in the ground sausage. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes and then begin breaking up the meat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and thyme. Cook another minute or so.
  4. Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, milk, wine, bay leaves, and a good pinch of salt + pepper to the pot. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves, taste to season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al dente, drain and toss with the tomato sauce + roasted broccoli rabe. Transfer the pasta to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey. Remove and let sit 5 minutes. Serve.

Rigatoni Broccoli Rabe Bake | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

ps. all that roasted broccoli rabe makes this one count as a “Healthy January” recipe… 🙂

{This post is sponsored by Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Half Baked Harvest cooking!! }

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