Baked Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

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Total Time
1hr 30mins
Prep
45 mins
Cook
45 mins

This is a Nick Stellino recipe.

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Generously butter a 9x12-inch casserole pan and coat with half the bread crumbs.
  4. Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.
  5. Cover with a plate (press down on the zucchini), weighted down with a heavy object.
  6. The salt will draw the liquid from the zucchini; the plate will help squeeze it out.
  7. Allow the zucchini to sit for about 20 minutes.
  8. Place the onion, celery, carrot and pancetta or bacon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is chopped into tiny pieces.
  9. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat.
  10. Add the vegetable-pancetta mixture and the garlic.
  11. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes.
  12. Add the sausage, stirring to break it up further and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the sausage is cooked through.
  13. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  14. Add the tomato sauce and broth.
  15. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  16. You should have a thin rather than thick pasta sauce; you want it liquid, as the mixture will eventually bake.
  17. Set the sauce aside, and cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions.
  18. Do not overcook; the pasta should hold its shape.
  19. While the pasta is cooking, rinse the zucchini.
  20. Wrap in a clean, dry kitchen towel and squeeze out all the moisture.
  21. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil.
  22. Add the zucchini, and over high heat, brown on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes.
  23. Cook in two batches, adding more oil if necessary, if the zucchini pieces are too many for one pan.
  24. They should be softened but not mushy.
  25. Remove and set aside.
  26. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
  27. Remove 1 cup of the pasta sauce from its pan and warm the remainder.
  28. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce in the pan and toss well.
  29. Add the zucchini and mozzarella and stir well.
  30. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole pan.
  31. Pour the reserved sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and the Romano.
  32. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes, until warmed through.
  33. Remove the foil, check that the mozzarella is melted and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp the top before serving.