thursday night dinner

I constantly battle dinner.  I like cooking and I like food, but I don't like coming up with things to cook.  I'm also notorious for "editing" recipes (thanks to my mother who never cooks with a recipe, she just makes stuff...and it's always good).  John is a real trooper because he always eats what I cook, even if it has ingredients that are on his "I don't like that" list (although most of those are foods he doesn't like out of principal more than him just not liking them).

Today I needed something that would make lots of leftovers.  I chose a recipe from "Cook Yourself Thin" (yeah it sounds lame, but it's a good cookbook, it's got lots of "skinny" recipes for comfort foods which usually have tons of calories and/or fat).  Here's the recipe, with my modifications (and those that I thought of later):

Pasta Bake with Sausage, Broccoli, and Beans

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  • 1 large head of broccoli cut into small florets
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 3/4 lb rigatoni (you could use whatever kind of pasta you want though)
  • 1 lb Italian-style turkey sausage (removed from casing if uncooked, or sliced thinly if precooked)
  • 1 can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 lb skim mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (I just reserved 1/2 cup of the pasta water which worked equally as well...if not better)
  • 1/2 cup Percorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.  Add broccoli and garlic, simmer for about 5 minutes until softened. 
  3. With a slotted spoon remove broccoli and garlic to a large bowl.  Bring the water back to a boil, add pasta, and cook for about 2 minutes less than the package directions suggest.  The pasta should be al dente.
  4. In a pan, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat.  Add sausage and garlic cloves from the broccoli bowl, and cook, stirring frequently until the meat is fully cooked, about 4-5 minutes. (If using cooked sausage, cook until the surface is golden, about 2-3 minutes.) Transfer the cooked sausage to the broccoli bowl and discard garlic.
  5. Toss drained pasta with sausage mixture.  Add beans, stock (or reserved pasta water), 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese, and all of the ricotta.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Gently toss. 
  6. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, Pecorino cheese, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until heath through and crusty on top.


I didn't have enough mozzarella cheese (I thought I did until I came home from the store...and I almost NEVER go back to the store for something I forgot) so I used cheddar to fill in.  I omitted the beans, and would have liked to add artichoke hearts or sun-dried tomatoes. Enjoy!