Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baked Rigatoni With Sausage, Ricotta and Swiss Chard

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated financially by Barilla to write it. All thoughts, feelings and opinions about their pasta are my own. 

Sometimes I find inspiration for meals in the oddest of locales.  There I was, minding my own business in Superstore. (For those not in the know, Superstore is a huge grocery store chain in Canada, with their own cheap and cheerful clothing line, housewares, and other big box store stuff.  They don't sell tires though.) I sauntered down the housewares aisle, just for fun.  I love all things kitchen.  I could spend hours examining pots and bowls and wooden spoons and vegetable peelers.  Kitchen stuff is my crack.  Good thing my little green kitchen is tiny so my habit is fairly under control - until I find something I must have this very second.  Like this new line of stoneware Superstore has in stock now.  I found the most perfect red baking dish.  It's deep, like 3L deep, with nice high sides.  But really, it's the red that got me.  And the price.  $17.99!!!  Deal of the day. 

While looking at this perfect baking vessel, I thought hmmm....pasta would bake up lovely in this, with its cheesy goodness self contained with the high sides.  I've got a box of Barilla Rigatoni in the pantry, and oh, I have some excellent Pine View Farms Italian sausage in the freezer, along with some cherry tomatoes ready to burst from ripeness, and half block of mozzarella that should find a purpose, too.  There.  Dinner planned, just from looking at my new purchase.  I skipped over to the produce aisle (no I didn't really skip - that would be silly) and picked out some good-looking Swiss chard, because all of a sudden I wanted a ricotta cheese filling, with greens in it, and I love chard over spinach any day.  Grabbed a can or two of crushed tomatoes and I was set.  Superstore, I love you. 

Rigatoni is perfect for this dish.  It has more personality than rotini or penne, though in a pinch those would work well here too.  So would lasagna noodles, if you wanted to go that route.  It's really all about the sauce, pasta, and cheese.  I prefer to use a high-quality pasta like Barilla, that cooks perfectly al dente every time. You can leave the sausage out of the sauce too, but I love the really good quality sausage that Pine View produces.  Very lean and jam packed with flavour.  Splash in some red wine too, if you have some sitting on the counter that needs to be used up (ha!!!) or crack open a bottle, and drink the rest with your fabulous dinner.  There are a few steps here, but it's not too fussy.  The ricotta filling is well worth it - I daresay it makes the dish.  Well, that and the bubbling mozzarella on top.  Where would we be without that glorious lid of melted cheese?

Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, Ricotta and Swiss Chard

Cooking time: 50 minutes
Makes 6 servings

454g Barilla Rigatoni

1 Tbsp canola oil
500g good quality Italian sausage, mild or hot
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of hot pepper flakes, or more
few glugs of red wine
1 796 ml can crushed tomatoes
small handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

1 500g tub of ricotta cheese (not low fat)
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
pinch hot pepper flakes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper

3 cups shredded mozzarella

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it's still a little firm (about 7 minutes) - it will cook more in the oven. When cooked, drain, and set aside.   
  • To make the sauce, heat a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the oil. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings, and cook until no longer pink inside, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Add the chopped onion and garlic, herbs and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  
  • Add the glugs of wine, if you wish, let reduce for a bit, then add the crushed tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, honey and a little salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about half an hour, stirring now and again. Adjust the seasonings. 
  • In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, basil and red pepper flakes.  Heat a medium skillet over medium-high and add olive oil.  Sauté the onion until translucent and then add the chard.  Cook until soft.  Let cool a bit, then add to the cheese mixture. 
  • To assemble:  in a large, deep 3L casserole dish, lay down some sauce, then half noodles, then the ricotta filling, then remaining noodles, remaining sauce and finish with the mozzarella. Bake until cheese is bubbly and golden, about 25 minutes.  Let sit 5 minutes before cutting into.  Serve with crusty bread and a big salad.  Makes lots for 6. 

The baking dish did not disappoint!  I didn't think to grease it, and low and behold it washed like a dream - no stuck-on cheesy bits to give me grief.  I'm happy I added the red dish to my inventory of cool kitchen stuff....I can foresee it baking up wonderful crisps and cobblers, maybe even a scalloped potato or two.  They also sell little 3L roasters, complete with lid, for the same price.  I may have to make another trip....

Does anyone else have a bad kitchen equipment habit?


  1. Hey Renne, I'm with you on the bad kitchen habit...I too can spend hours finding all sorts of cool gadgets, dishes etc. We have a fantastic store here called Canadian Restaurant Supply that sells the coolest stuff!! I do have one question for you a GLUG a recognized unit of measurement?

  2. I love the rationale here... if one buys a new baking dish, that means a tasty dinner! It's a great excuse! but seriously, i love how kitchen accessories can inspire new dishes. I'm totally with you on the bad kitchen habits.. in fact at superstore the other day they had some easter dishes on sale for only a few bucks and I just had to get them! too cute.

  3. Ok, this looks YUM! I too have a kitchenware addiction...It's getting somewhat out of control. Love your casserole dish!

  4. I love Italian sausage - must make this soon. Great photos!

  5. Your photos are gorgeous. I'm super hungry now :)!

  6. Thanks PGF! Hope you had something tasty for lunch!

  7. I'm always lookin' for a good Swiss chard recipe so I'm bookmarking this one. It looks wonderful, and I'm sure it tastes as great as it looks! :)


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