One of the best pastas on the market in my estimation is Barilla. When it goes on sale I generally stock up with our favorites. I love the Spaghetti Rigati as it has ridges and therefore the sauces tend to cling to the pasta. You could use regular spaghetti instead. This dish was inspired by a recipe I saw in my new cookbook, Molto Batali - Simple Family Meals.
Easy on the budget, cooks up fairly quickly and in an hour you should be able to call, "dinners ready." Depending on how spicy you like your food, you can use sweet sausage in place of hot sausage. I used hot sausage that is made at my local grocery store.
The crunchy topping is essential to this dish to give it some texture and additional flavor. Before beginning the main dish, have the topping ready. I prefer panko bread crumbs but if you have left over bread you could use that.
For the topping:
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. olive oil
In a small frying pan over medium heat melt the butter and olive oil. When the butter starts to sizzle, add in the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and spices. Turn the heat down to low. Keep stirring to combine and coat the bread crumbs. When the bread crumbs have become golden in color remove from the heat altogether. You may want to keep stirring as the pan retains the heat and you don't want to burn the crumbs.
For the Main Dish:
1/2 - 3/4 lb. Spaghetti (Rigati or Regular)
4 hot Italian sausage - casings removed
1 red onion - rough dice
2-3 large garlic cloves - chopped
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a deep skillet add the olive oil and over medium high heat begin browning the sausage until it is almost cooked through, breaking the sausage apart in the pan as you brown it. When that is complete, remove the sausage to a plate or bowl.
Next, reduce the heat under the same skillet to a medium low and add in the red onion with a touch more olive oil if needed. Stir, and allow the onion to get soft and tender and release its juice. That takes 3-5 minutes and at that point, add in the broccoli florets and the crushed red pepper flakes and stir.
Cook the broccoli for 8-10 minutes, constantly stirring in the pan. Add the chicken broth a little at a time so the broccoli doesn't burn.
While you are cooking the broccoli, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Make sure you cook it el dente as it will cook for a minute or so more when you add it to the skillet later on.
When the broccoli is cooked to your liking - we like ours with a slight bite to it versus mushy; add the sausage back in and stir. Cook for another couple of minutes to make sure the sausage is thoroughly cooked. Next add in the cooked pasta and a bit more chicken stock and the Parmesan cheese.
Toss everything together and then ring the dinner bell.