Cheesy Baked Pasta With Sausage and Ricotta Recipe



  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces dried pasta, such as small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta
  • 6 ounces whole-milk ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
  • ¾ pound bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed or strained tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices


Oven temperature set at 425. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Use a spoon to split up the sausage into little pieces before adding it to the skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring periodically, until the mixture begins to brown. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes after stirring in the garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes (if using).

Use a spoon to break up the whole tomatoes before adding them together with their juice. Bring to a simmer after adding the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and two teaspoons of salt. In order to slightly thicken, simmer for 10 minutes.

Return to a simmer after adding the pasta and 1 cup of water. Continue to simmer for a further 2 minutes, turning often to prevent the spaghetti from sticking to the pan's bottom. Fold roughly a third of the mozzarella in after being taken off the heat, the bay leaves removed.

Pasta should be topped with the remaining mozzarella and ricotta. Add the Parmesan, then place in the oven. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and faintly browned and pasta is soft when tested with a fork. (If you prefer a topping that is more thoroughly browned, place the pan under the broiler for one or two minutes.) Before serving, remove from oven and allow cool slightly. Add more red pepper flakes, basil, and black pepper on top.