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Baked Penne and Italian Sausage Ragu

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Baked Penne and Italian Sausage Ragu

Baked Penne and Italian Sausage Ragu
New Media Publishing / Photography: Flat Art / Stylist: Abigail Donnelly
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total prep
New Year's Day is all about relaxing, and this pasta bake, a rustic mix of penne, Italian sausage, and olives, is easy to assemble the day before. Turn on the bowl games and just pop it in the oven to reheat.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings discarded
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound penne
  • 2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot, then brown sausage in 2 batches, stirring and breaking up into bite-size pieces, until no longer pink. Transfer with a slotted spoon as browned to a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot.
  • Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet, then cook onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil, stirring up brown bits, then transfer to pot. Add tomatoes, olives, bay leaf, 1 cup water, salt, and pepper, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375F with rack in middle.
  • Cook penne in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until not quite al dente (pasta should still be firm). Drain pasta, then combine well with sauce and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Transfer to a 4-quart (15- by 10- by 2-inch) baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake pasta until cheese starts to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Make ahead: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and kept chilled once cooled. Pasta dish can be assembled 1 day ahead and kept chilled once cooled. Reheat, uncovered, in a 375F oven, about 30 minutes.