Baked Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

Recipe by Gingerbear
READY IN: 1hr 30mins




  • 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.