Recipe by Gingerbear
This is a Nick Stellino recipe.
Top Review by sidMILB
Boyfriend said this was GOOD! (I thought so, too.) I a full pound used regular country sausage, regular bacon, threw 1.5 cups of mushrooms in with the food processor mix. Also topped with shredded mozzerella and fresh basil. The bread crumb-coated pan was a nice touch. Gave some to neighbors and kept some for self. We'll see how it freezes. Thanks, Secret! — Jun 30, 2005
- 1⁄2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1 lb small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 medium sweet onion
- 1⁄2-1 stalk celery (1/2 large or 1 small celery stalk, from the heart)
- 1⁄2-1 carrot
- 3 ounces pancetta, cut into chunks or 3 ounces bacon, cut into pieces
- 4 -6 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced (optional)
- 3⁄4 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed,broken up
- 3⁄4 cup red wine
- 1 3⁄4 cups tomato sauce
- 1 3⁄4 cups beef broth
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta
- 4 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated romano cheese (optional)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch pepper
Directions See How It's Made
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Generously butter a 9x12-inch casserole pan and coat with half the bread crumbs.
- Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.
- Cover with a plate (press down on the zucchini), weighted down with a heavy object.
- The salt will draw the liquid from the zucchini; the plate will help squeeze it out.
- Allow the zucchini to sit for about 20 minutes.
- 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.
- In a large, deep sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the vegetable-pancetta mixture and the garlic.
- Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the sausage, stirring to break it up further and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the sausage is cooked through.
- Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and broth.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- You should have a thin rather than thick pasta sauce; you want it liquid, as the mixture will eventually bake.
- Set the sauce aside, and cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions.
- Do not overcook; the pasta should hold its shape.
- While the pasta is cooking, rinse the zucchini.
- Wrap in a clean, dry kitchen towel and squeeze out all the moisture.
- Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil.
- Add the zucchini, and over high heat, brown on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cook in two batches, adding more oil if necessary, if the zucchini pieces are too many for one pan.
- They should be softened but not mushy.
- Remove and set aside.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
- Remove 1 cup of the pasta sauce from its pan and warm the remainder.
- Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce in the pan and toss well.
- Add the zucchini and mozzarella and stir well.
- Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole pan.
- Pour the reserved sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and the Romano.
- Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes, until warmed through.
- Remove the foil, check that the mozzarella is melted and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp the top before serving.