Maybe my grandmother wouldn’t have approved of adding sausage to this traditional Italian dish. I could just hear her now saying, ” Linda, you’re supposed to use the pasta shells with the ridges, not Rigatoni, that’s why it’s called Conchiglie al Forno With Shitake Mushrooms And Radicchio”. I just like to put my own spin on a traditional dish, so you’ll see, that’s what I’m doing here. You can certainly leave out the sausage and it will be just as delicious. I call this dish Ziti Rigati al Forno With Radicchio, Shitake Mushrooms, And Sweet Italian Sausage.
Prep Time: 30 to 35 minutes (this includes prep and cooking all the components for the dish)
Cook Time: 8 to 12 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (11 x 13 x 2) large baking dish, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (6-quart) stockpot, Microplane, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, large rubber spatula, chef’s knife
1 1/2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pint of Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and sliced
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, (2 tablespoons for mushrooms 4 tablespoons to *dot the top of the dish, the remaning butter to grease the baking dish)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons of garlic, minced
2 heads radicchio (2 cups) finely sliced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
4 teaspoons of Ricotta cheese, whole milk
3/4 cup of Fontina cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup of good quality crumbled Gorgonzola
1 1/2 boxes (1 1/2 pounds) of Ronzoni’s Ziti Rigati
8 sage leaves, julienned
Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish
To start, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, diced onions, and red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions start to soften, 2 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook stirring occasionally until sausage is no longer pink and cooked through, 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the browned sausage into a medium-size mixing bowl, set aside.
Remove any fat left in the pan, replacing it with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms, stir and cook allowing the mushrooms to release their water and brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Next, add the minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, cook for an additional 1 minute, stir to combine. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the same bowl with the browned sausage. Add freshly chopped sage to the bowl, stir to combine.
Note: If you are not a fan of sage substitute freshly chopped thyme leaves.
Preheat oven to 500-degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
In another large mixing bowl containing the sliced radicchio, add the ricotta, grated Fontina cheese, 1/2 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, crumbled Gorgonzola, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Mix to combine.
Combine the cooked sausage and mushroom mixture into the large bowl containing the radicchio and cheeses. Mix until everything is combined really well.
In a large pot of salted boiling water add the pasta. Cook for only 5 to 6 minutes (approx. half the time recommended on the back of the box). Drain the pasta really well before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Using a large rubber spatula, gently toss the pasta through not to break any of the rigatoni, combining all the ingredients together.
In a large buttered baking dish, pour in the pasta mixture. Using the large rubber spatula, spread out the pasta mixture evenly throughout the dish. *Dot the top (taking 4 tablespoons and cut into small pieces) with butter. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (keep a close eye on the dish) until bubbly and the top becomes golden brown.
Once out of the oven, garnish with fresh chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.
There you have it, my Ziti Rigati al Forno With Radicchio, Shitake Mushrooms, And Sweet Italian Sausage.
*Dot is to scatter small bits of butter over food.