Oh my, it's only 10 days to Christmas! Pretty exciting isn't it! ;) I am pretty stoked about it since I will be spending this holiday with my good friends. I am really looking forward to it since I've not seen them for awhile now. (^_^) I am sure many of you have great plans too for this joyous holiday too. But whether it's a small gathering or big dinner party, I bet you can't leave food out of the picture! So if you are planning to have friends over and still wondering what should you serve? Well, I have a good suggestion for you! A delicious and homey dish that's sure to warm anyone up; Baked Rigatoni with Sausage Meatballs and Herb Bread Crumbs. ;)
I have not make this pasta for years. Don't know why, probably because living in Singapore and the influences here just tend to lean towards serving Asian cuisine. Nevertheless, I decided to reminiscence this comforting meal at home again and was really glad I did. :D My family loved it and went for seconds. :9
Ingredients for Baked Rigatoni with Sausage Meatballs and Herb Bread Crumbs (Serves 6-8)
400g sweet Italian Sausage (I got mine from Cold Storage)
1 broccoli floret, cut into small chunks
1/2 yellow onion, chopped small
1/2 carrot, peeled and chopped small
1 jar tomato sauce (15 ounce)
150ml heavy fresh cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 slice stale bread
1 small bunch curly leaf or Italian Parsley150g mozzarella, shredded (or more if desired)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
500g rigatoni pasta
4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, sliced into small chunks
2 cups of oil for frying meatballs
- To prepare the meatballs, remove the casing and divide the sausage into small bite size portions and roll them round. Heat up the frying oil in a pan at medium heat. Fry the meatballs till it becomes golden brown. Dish up and drain them on paper towels and set aside for use later.
- Using the same frying pan, remove the oil and set the fire at medium low. Put in the sliced bacons and slowly stir fry till it becomes slight crisp and most of the oil has been emitted out. Dish up and drain on paper towels and set aside for use later.
- Leave about 1 tbsp of the bacon oil in the pan and add in the chopped carrots and onions. At low heat, cook till the vegetables are soft and translucent. Add in the tomato sauce and heavy cream and stir well. Cook for a good 5 minutes and add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble, add in the sausage meatballs and stir in well. Cook for a couple minutes and then turn the heat off. Set aside for assemble later. Grease your baking pan with some butter. I usually save those butter wrappers for this purpose. ;) This step is gonna save you some scrubbing later!
- In the meantime, boil a pot of water and add the chopped broccoli florets in. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then drain out the vegetables. Then do the same for the rigatoni pasta. Cook in rolling boil water till al dente. Drain out and dish into the baking pan. Ladle the tomato meatball sauce over the pasta.
- Add in the broccoli florets and toss everything together to mix well. Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Tear up the stale bread into a blender and add in the roughly chopped parsley. Blend till it resembles fine bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle the herb bread crumbs over the pasta. Then follow by sprinkling the bacon, mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta.
- Lastly, add small dollops of butter over the top, about 2 tbsp should be suffice. Bake the pasta in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes uncovered, till the top is golden crisp and the pasta is bubbly.
Bare in mind that this can be made ahead. Meaning you can prep everything up till the baking part, and chill it in the fridge up to a day or 2 prior to the event. Then an hour before serving, bake it up and it'll be nice and delicious for your guests!
In fact this can be made any time, not just for dinner parties. It has this rustic homey feel, that is pretty comforting to have at any time. :)
Hope you all will give this a try. It is truly yummy! Hope everyone has a great day! Cheers!