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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Rigatoni al Forno With Radicchio, Shitake Mushrooms, And Sweet Italian Sausage

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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 most certainly leave out the sausage and it will be just as delicious. I call this dish Rigatoni al Forno With Radicchio, Shitake Mushrooms And Sweet Italian Sausage. 

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Rigatoni Al Forno

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Prep Time: 30 to 35 minutes (this includes cooking all the components and the actual prep)
Bake Time: 8 to 12 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 11 x 13 x 2 large baking dish, 12-inch sauté pan, 6-quart stockpot, Microplane, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, large rubber spatula, Chef’s knife

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 pint of Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
12 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), 2 tablespoons for mushrooms 4 tablespoons to *dot the top of the 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 crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
3/4 cup of freshly Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus extra for serving
3/4 cup of Fontina cheese, grated
1 1/2 boxes of Rigatoni
1/4 cup of good quality crumbled Gorgonzola
4 teaspoons of whole milk Ricotta
8 sage leaves chopped finely chopped
Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:
To start, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, diced onions, and crushed red pepper flakes, and a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and 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 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, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and 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 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 4 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.

This is my Rigatoni al Forno With Radicchio, Shitake Mushrooms, And Sweet Italian Sausage.

*Dot is to scatter small bits of butter over food.

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Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Strata just mean a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom And Asparagus Strata is perfect. Not to mention, it’s comfort food in every sense of the word. Let’s start from the beginning…

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I like spinach to keep its beautiful green color, so I immediately remove the pan from the heat. Once the spinach wilts, toss in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into the oven.

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Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes (time includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Cook Time: 45 to 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sauté pan, 9 x 13 baking dish, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans,  1 medium-size mixing bowl, 1 large mixing bowl, Chef’s knife

Ingredients:
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta bread, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
Dozen large eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half, room temperature
4-ounces grated Gruyere cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
4-ounces grated Fontina cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300-degrees F.
Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2-inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread is in the oven start the filling.

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a large sautépan. Next, add the Fresno chili and garlic, sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes or until browned. Season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

To the pan, add the sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Sauté until all the sausage is brown and cooked through, around 10 minutes. Next, add the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through. Set the filling aside.

For the bread, I used a Ciabatta. Slice the Ciabatta then cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes onto two rimmed sheet pans. Spread the cubes out into one even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread cubes become dry and style-like. Let the bread cubes cool for 10 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Start the custard by adding to the medium-size mixing bowl the eggs, milk, grated cheeses, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, whisk until combined.

In another large mixing bowl add the sausage mixture and cooled bread cubes. Gently toss to combine. Pour the custard over the sausage and bread cubes.

Gently fold the ingredients with the custard. Allow the mixture to sit for around 10 minutes giving the bread cubes a chance to absorb the custard, or at least most of it. In the meantime, butter the baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime butter, a 9 x 13 baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

After the 10 minutes, pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Drizzle (around a 1/4 cup) of olive oil all over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.

Allow the Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata to rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

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