baked pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage

Guys, I am in the weeds this month. After a summer of lazy, a summer of two vacations and a husband (eh, unpaid assistant) always around, making life fun and easy, a mess of busy (new job, work travel for him, book touring for me, a spate of solo parenting of each of us, new preschool, new babysitter, and very important birthday party allatonce) has descended on our recently idyllic lifestyle and, no, I am not handling it with the effortless grace you’ve come to expect from me. Quit laughing. Stop it. I could be effortless or graceful! I mean, there was that one time… Okay, fine. I’m handling it as predicted: with equal measures of bourbon and complaining on the internet. I never claimed to be a model human.

pasta + parmesan + sausage + garlic + rabe
still obsessed with this pasta shape

Once in a while, though, once in a sweet savior of a blue moon, I plan ahead and this time, it’s saving this page from flatlining, at least until I get my head back in the game. This dish is, in fact, one of my favorite new dinner recipes this year; we loved it so much that I found it agonizing to wait so long to tell you about it. But it didn’t feel like the right season to post it when I made it (late this past spring). I wanted to save it for what I considered a more chaotic and comfort-demanding time of year, like September (even if the 92 degree weather today mocks my best laid plans).

broccoli rabe

the broccoli rabe cooks with the pasta

It started as a hunt for my own take on a baked ziti. Although I would never, ever turn it away if you brought some by my apartment at about 5:55 this afternoon (I would probably leap into your arms and kiss you, which might be awkward, so consider yourself warned), traditional American-Italian baked ziti has never been my favorite thing because I’ve never much cared for the texture of baked ricotta, which seems to be in every recipe. And, while I love tomato sauce in all formats, it always feels a little clashy against the green vegetables I insist make pasta-for-dinner acceptable any night of the week. No, I realized my dream baked ziti would probably not be ziti at all (I think other chunky pastas pick up sauce better), but a chunky, craggy deconstructed lasagna with all of the important parts played up — browned crunchy edges for miles, hearty chunks of sausage and thick green vegetables.

a drippings + butter bechamel
a mix, plus some wayward pasta wheels
diced mozzarella strings when melted
ready to bake

I made a big old pan of this before the last book tour, to help get the boys through the week. I made another one the week before we went to Rome, when we didn’t want to load up on groceries that would go to waste, and we brought the last portions to the airport, for a so-much-better-than-airplane dinner. I did not, unfortunately, stash some in my freezer before this week began but if you’re having a week or month like we are, or maybe it’s just getting cool enough where you are to consider rib-sticking but not gut-weighing food again, you should make this beast happen.

hello, dinner! baked pasta with rabe and sausage
crunchy, not goopy, baked pasta
baked pasta with broccoli and sausage

Related: This dish has some ingredients in common with Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe weeknight staple. Previously, in the baked pasta department: Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs, Lasagna Bolognese, Mushroom Lasagna and last year’s Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

One year ago: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella
Two years ago: Red Wine Chocolate Cake (and my sorta-9/11 story with a happy ending)
Three years ago: Grape Foccacia with Rosemary
Four years ago: Nectarine Galette
Five years ago: Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint
Six years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Important: This is my dream of a baked pasta dish — not too heavy, not to rich or gooey, tons of crunchy edges. As you might see in the photos above, it’s on the firm side. If you’d like a baked pasta with more sauce, which I expect most of you will, you’ll want to use 1 1/2 times the bechamel and cheese below.

Broccoli rabe (also called raab or rapini) is a leafy green vegetable with buds that somewhat resemble broccoli. It’s slightly bitter and holds up well to cooking. If you can’t find it, regular broccoli or broccolini will work here as well; they will only need 3 and 2 minutes respectively of boiling time with the pasta to keep it semi-crisp. If you’d like to make this without meat, the sausage can definitely be omitted. You could add some lightly sauteed chunky brown mushrooms for extra bulk, as well.

The pasta shape I used here is called toscani and it’s from the brand Seggiano. I have found it at Whole Foods and, if you’re in the East Village, Commodities Natural Market on 1st Ave. (plus I’m sure other stores). When I can’t get, it I use Barilla’s similar campanelle or seriously any chunky pasta you like to bake with.

Pasta and assembly
1 pound chunky pasta of your choice (I love bell shapes; see above for details)
1 bundle broccoli rabe (see above for options), stems and leaves cut into 1-inch segments
1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy pork or chicken), casings removed
2/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
6 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes

2 cups milk, full fat is ideal
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Few gratings fresh nutmeg

Cook the pasta and rabe: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe. It will seem like too much for the water, but with a stir or two, the rabe should wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Drain the broccoli rabe and pasta together and place in a large bowl.

Cook your sausage: Meanwhile, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide saucepan (you will use this for the bechamel in a few minutes; you could also use your pasta pot, once it is drained) over medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Remove with slotted spoon or spatula, leaving any fat behind. Eyeball the drippings (pork sausage will leave some; chicken usually does not) — use one tablespoon less butter next if it looks like there’s a tablespoon there. Any less, don’t worry about adjusting the butter.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Make the bechamel: Melt your butter in same saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add your flour and stir it into the butter until smooth. Cook the mixture together for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour in a small drizzle of your milk, whisking constantly into the butter-flour mixture until smooth. Continue to drizzle a very small amount at a time, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added a little over half of your milk, you’ll find that you have more of a thick sauce or batter, and you can start adding the milk in larger splashes, being sure to keep mixing. Once all of the milk is added, add the salt, garlic, nutmeg, and few grinds of black pepper, and bring the mixture to a lower simmer and cook it, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Assemble and bake: Add the sausage and bechamel to the bowl with the pasta and broccoli rabe. Stir in mozzarella and half of grated parmesan or pecorino until combined. Pour into a lasagna pan, deep 9×13-inch baking dish* or 3-quart casserole dish and coat with remaining parmesan or pecorino. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the edges and craggy points are nicely bronzed.

Eat warm. Reheat as needed.

* I love this so much, I’ve bought two, and it’s usually crazy inexpensive.

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416 comments on baked pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage

  1. Katie

    At the Meat Hook in BK they have a sausage that is made with broccoli rabe and parm. Thinking that might take this dish to a whole nother level!

  2. This is what I baked during the Aussie winter this year! Broccoli rabe grows like wild fire down here and is so flavourful; I recommend you try it in pesto sauce instead of spinach or kale. It really makes a difference if you like your green sauces. I love the pasta you used here, so pretty.

  3. Amy

    This sounds delicious. I’ll have to remember it for when the weather finally cools off in florida. And for when I have the girls coming for dinner. Hubby and kids don’t ‘do’ béchamel.

  4. So many changes in the Smitten Kitchen household. I must admit, I have a morbid curiosity about the painful application process you must have gone through for Jacob’s preschool. I’ll never get over the way New York is about that. Just mind-blowing.

    1. deb

      Molly — Thanks. I hate to jinx it, but we’ve been really lucky with both his preschools, literally just called and they had openings. But, we also don’t buy into the fervor, or try not to; we’re not looking at so-called feeder preschools or any of that madness that gets a lot of press. We just look for happy places with teachers that have been there for a long time and a ton of messy artwork on the walls.

      Susan — You definitely need this pan. I bought it randomly at, like, Bed Bath and Beyond five years ago and couldn’t find it again for ages. So, when I did, I bought two. It washes up really well too, feels heavy but isn’t very thick, and the walls are taller than they look, so there’s wiggle room in recipes.

      1. Cynthia

        I made the Pasta, Sausage and Rabe casserole and it was given all thumbs up by my family. Just to give you a heads up your recipe did not include the garlic. I had leftover sausage drippings and sautéed the garlic in that. I figured you probably would call for the garlic to be cooked with the sausage anyway. Thanks so much for a delicious meal and recipe.

  5. Susan

    Like you, I haven’t found a baked ziti that I’ve been impressed by. I can’t put my finger on what is wrong with the recipes I choose. I think it’s gummy pasta or a sauce too acidic. I haven’t tried one with béchamel or any vegetable in it, so that might be the difference. Thanks for the link to your favorite pan. I’ve been looking forever for a good lasagna pan and haven’t found “the one” yet. My Pyrex pans are just too shallow but I just keep struggling with them. So silly..lazy.

  6. I so get that about busy ant not being as graceful as we would like… LOL. The recipe has made me very, very hungry. I am traveling at the moment and miss my kitchen. This only made it worse. In any case this is another dish I’ll need to try.

  7. Lara

    This is definitely going on next week’s dinner menu. And somehow I can’t stop thinking about a butternut squash version (replacing the sausage in half or in full). If I try it, I will report back. Thanks for the inspiration, Deb!

  8. Vict

    Looks very tasty. I’d like to make it with cubed cooked chicken breast, but I’m afraid it might turn out too bland. Perhaps a good amount of pepper, along with diced roasted tomatoes dotted throughout would rescue it from blandom.

  9. Oh, if you fall in love with an item, always buy two. You won’t regret it. Full-fat milk? Do cows still squirt that? This sounds ideal now that the SoCal heat wave has settled down and the marine layer fools us into thinking that there’s really a fall chill in the air. Love the trumpet pasta!

  10. amanda

    I think you’re the best kind of “model” human – a REAL one. Which is why SK will always be my favorite cooking blog. Hands down. Thanks for being so real (and presumably, you), Deb. Enjoy your time across the puddle and I hope your beautiful family is adjusting well to new schedules and craziness!!

  11. Lisa B

    I am looking for dishes to make for a sick relative, and this looks like it would fit the bill nicely. Would it freeze well? Before or after baking?

  12. Well, it’s already getting cold in Montreal (except for today…yesterday was cold, today is sweltering, what gives?) so definitely time to break out the baked pasta. Looks delicious! If I can’t find broccoli rabe, how would a hearty kale work out d’ya think?

  13. Sara

    Any suggestions for a kosher and/or vegetarian spin on this? I’d like to keep the cheese but leave out the sausage – what, if anything, should I substitute?

  14. Hi Deb, I HAVE to make this immediately!! My stomach is already grumbling for dinner. Problem is, I have a big head of escarole looming in the fridge that I’ve abandoned for several days and really should be eating tonight. Think I could use the escarole in place of the broccolini?

  15. Caitlyn

    I second Laura K., who suggested the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Baked Ziti. The cottage cheese bakes up nice and pillowy, instead of grainy the way ricotta seems to. And I find that tossing the whole thing with a couple handfulls of finely-chopped greens gives that veggie boost I’m looking for without making my husband turn his nose up.

    And this meal looks amazing. It’s definitely going on the list for autumn.

  16. Heather

    I just bought the ingredients to make the Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe for the 3rd of 4th time, but I think I’m going to have to try this instead. If it’s as good as it looks, it might be the perfect thing for a work potluck we just planned for the beginning of October.

  17. Ooooh, baked pasta is the King of comfort foods, and if not the King, then surely the Prince ! This looks perfect for right now, it might be worth putting on some clothes to go grocery shopping…

  18. Christine

    Deb, I love how honest you are about the busy-ness in your life and how you do or don’t handle it. Sometimes when I am reading other blogs, it feels like everyone else out there has their life perfectly in order. This post came just at the right time for me. Thanks for sharing with us, in all your triumphs and stumbles. Hope your UK book tour is fantastically fun and you don’t feel too bad if the boys don’t have something like this in the freezer.

  19. CarolJ

    Could you, Deb, or another commenter help me out with a question on trimming the broccoli rabe? I’ve never cooked with it, and I’m not sure how much of the stems can be used. Any guidelines? Thanks.

    1. deb

      CarolJ — I use the whole stems. I see a lot of recipes that just have you use the leaves, but when you boil it as we do here with the pasta, they get plenty soft. I do maybe trim the last 1/4-inch of dried end/scruff off.

      TheSweetZucchini — I think you could use escarole here. I don’t know that you’d need to boil it for more than even a minute, or less, just to wilt it.

      Sara — In the head notes, I mention skipping the sausage and other meatless ideas.

      Indirect Libre — Ooh, kale, definitely.

      [Guys, did I tell you about that time I embarrassed myself on NPR because of my kale … reluctance? And that it was last week? Definitely one of my finer hours (yes, that’s sarcasm). Well, there’s no point in keeping it from you now. Feel free to snicker along.]

      Morgan — I haven’t frozen this but imagine that it would freeze well. I’d reheat it in a low oven, covered with foil until the last 10 minutes or so.

      Tilly — Cold? In London? It’s stinking hot here now. I have no idea what to paaaaaaaaaack. (I’ll stop whining now.)

  20. Kate

    I too am curious about the freezing possibilities. This seems perfect to stockpile for my comprehensive exams.
    Also, am I think only one who took forever to figure out that “allatonce” isn’t an Italian word that ends in the syllable “say”?

  21. David

    If you like extra crusty baked pasta, Williams-Sonoma has an “Extra-Crusty Baked Rigatoni with Beef Ragù” that’s pretty good. Thanks for all the amazing recipes!

  22. la

    hi deb. is there a good substitute for the milk in this? or milk in anything like this? i have a 15 year old with a severe dairy allergy and hate leaving her out of these super yummy dishes that the rest of us get to enjoy! :(

  23. Brandon

    will it make a major difference if i use fat free milk and margarine (or cant believe not butter) for a healthy version of the bechamel?

  24. Maria in Oregon

    Wales is really lovely, and so is Bath. I was born in Bristol and have family all over the southwest. Enjoy your book tour! Try some steak and kidney pie, or a Cornish pasty! Oooh-ahr!

  25. Deb, I just love your writing! Busy days here too with a few parties to throw (and yes, you were right, you found the recipe for the best birthday cake ever) and I had to laugh hard at the handling things, uh, not always with effortless grace part. Yes! Not just me! Thank you so much.

  26. Allie B.

    Deb, this looks FABULOUS, just the way it is, without the extra béchamel. Is there any way to make maybe 1/4 of this? Because I’m all by myself, the whole recipe and one person is a definition of FOREVER!


  27. JP

    Looks delicious! I must say I wish that I could have Jacob in my preschool class. Our school has been around sixty years and I am down one child from my class of twelve. Afraid CA would be too far a commute though. I bet he brings in some seriously good snacks!

  28. Carolyn

    LOL…your first paragraph = perfection.

    As is this dish. This is right up my alley, any baked pasta with dark leafy greens held together by cheese is my idea of a good night.

  29. Love your recipe! I too adore broccoli rabe, and I am making a family fave tonight ,broccoli Rabe with orecchiette. I had to drive 35 minutes to the whole foods since our neighborhood grocery refuses my request to stock it. Worth the trip and toll road fees! I will have to try your recipe out soon.

  30. Topol

    A tip: there’s no need to be careful about adding milk to the roux if you heat the milk up first. Use warm milk and you’ll never get lumps in your bechamel.

  31. Sally T

    This looks delicious! And just my style, plus I have sausage in the freezer!

    But, though I know it’s of no consequence to you, it’s just too late. I’m going into labor on Friday (because some how I made it to 41+ weeks) and there’s just not enough time to make this and put it in the freezer. Please, some other pregnant person do it for me. This sounds like the best food to have in your freezer when things are too hectic to cook.

  32. avigayil

    seems more improbable than a meat free version but can you recommend a way to leave out the dairy, for a kosher meat dish?

  33. s

    Silly story– I literally googled “allataonce”, thinking it was your grand and fancy ideas for Jacob’s birthday party! (all-ah-ton-say? fancy italian word, perhaps?) Obviously I then realized you meant just that everything was happening ALL-AT-ONCE, as it always seems to.

    Recipe looks glorious!

    1. deb

      s — Ha! Actually, I kept thinking it looked weird, unlike other words when mashed together when you can easily see that they’re just separate words connected. So, I would have done that too.

      Brandon — I haven’t made a bechamel with olive oil or margarine or low-fat milk; I suspect it will work (well, lower fat milk; I am not sure about skim) to some degree but you get more body and flavor from milk with fat in it. Please let us know how it goes.

  34. Rebeca

    Looks delicious! Saved to try with mushrooms instead of sausage when it cools down a bit more.

    Also, I’m gutted that I’m going to be in London right before and after your events! My boyfriend’s sister had gotten us tickets but we had to change our plans. :(

  35. Rachel

    Ok.. despite the ridiculous humidity today, this is in the oven as I type. What can I said, I had veggie italian-style sausage and milk in the house – so it seemed like a must have. I halved the pasta (cooking for one), and kept everything else about the same and it fit in a 9x9ish pan. It looked and is smelling heavenly. Oh.. I forgot to get mozzarella, but I don’t think I’ll miss it (too much).

    And, Avigayll (if you read this) – I’ve made quite tasty vegan béchamel sauces using olive oil and (unsweetened, *not* plain) soymilk. Keep the amounts the same and do it over low heat – you don’t really want to bring the soymilk to a full boil.

  36. Rachel

    I’m back… it is soooo good. Everyone needs to make this Right Now. It is *that* amazing. I don’t miss the mozzarella, but next time I want to be sure to add it and see. And maybe add some mushrooms.

    A winner, Deb! This is going on permanent rotation.

  37. jwg

    I don’t know if it is still there but years ago there was a Fan Museum in Bath. Quirky and well worth a side trip. Have fun on the trip. I hope you get some sightseeing time.

  38. Betsy

    I love it! This is a fancified version of what we in Minnesoooota call a “hot dish”. When my kids were little I made a homemade mac and cheese with hot dogs, and some extra seasonings. (Sure they still preferred Kraft’s fake stuff, but that’s beside the point.) And I usually made the white sauce with skimmed mile, and sometimes an olive oil/butter blend when I felt I needed to watch saturated fats. Change the type of sausage, the type of cheese, add vegetables like you did and it is much more elegant! I can see how flexible this can be.

  39. love love love pasta + broccoli raab + sausage, though we usually make it stove-top, tossed and tousled. the one bit i can never leave out: anchovies (paste or whole). seriously. they totally disappear, gone, into the mess, but leave behind this achingly great umami, salty, swank, like sausages on steroids.

    man. i already ate. but you’ve got me all hungry again. and yes, it was 92 here, also.

  40. Ann

    Just finished making this. Very likely, knowing this is waiting to go in the oven for dinner will taunt me all day at work tomorrow, while I eat a PB&J at my desk. Took your suggestion and added sautéed mushrooms to the mix, even though I did use sausage, because, you know, **shrooms**, and because their presence ups the Probable Child Satisfaction quotient. Can’t wait to try it.

  41. Caroline

    Lovely looking recipe. I am one of your UK followers and am booked to see you at Toppings bookshop in Bath. Looking forward to it! Got to sort out baby sitting for the puppy, but I’ll get something in place.

  42. Jessica

    This just looks so delicious! No other way to describe it. And the pasta is beautiful. I’m going to make it this weekend. It is rainy and cool here in the UK, in a ‘makes your hair frizzy’ and ‘I need carbs constantly’ kind of way. I never know what to pack when I travel, but for the UK, bring an umbrella (!), shoes that you can walk in without the rain ruining them, layers…as the bookshops might be blasting out the heating, so some form of jacket, maybe a light scarf and to be honest, that’s probably all the help I can give, as no-one will really care what you are wearing, the fact that you are visiting our damp and soggy isle is more than enough. I hope to take a long lunchbreak on the Thursday and come to the book-signing!

  43. Judy

    @maria in oregan. Ooh ahr re Cornish pasties is right. Debbie could you do a swing round via Israel so I can come to England with you? I don’t understand about the sausage. Do you take it out of the skin? If so why not use minced meat or chicken or whatever. @susan. Why don’t you use 2 Pyrex dishes says miss no-nothing to you who knows tons more than me? It’s massive hot here and promises to be a sweltering on Saturday just in time for Yom Kippur.

    1. deb

      Judy — Okay! Re, the sausage: Sausage meat is highly seasoned and delicious; it’s an easy way to get a ton of flavor into the dish as fresh Italian sausage is readily available here. In some places, you can buy sausage meat out of the casings, too.

      Jessica — Thank you for the advice — very helpful! Frizzy hair? Ugh. I don’t suppose the Drybar trend has taken root over there? (I love you Drybar, please marry me!)

  44. Kirsten

    This looks infinitely variable-
    Any greens plus prosciutto and beans, butternut squash and man hero cheese and mushrooms-
    I think you could sub chicken stock thickened with some flour for a kosher version. It would be different but still good.

  45. The weather JUST cooled off yesterday. Bring on the baked pasta dishes! Thanks :)

    I’m glad we’re not the only ones bringing leftovers to the airport. Home-cooked food always tastes so much better while traveling–even though people stare at us for it, hah.

  46. This looks great, just the thing to use up produce from the allotment – I will be making this pretty soon. Tilly is right – it is cold here, so perfect timing! Very excited as I have got tickets for your book tour date in Cambridge – yay!

  47. This looks like a healthy yet very delish pasta dish. I can’t wait to try it. I like how you combined everything, without resulting in a sloshy, saucy pasta entree. My kids will enjoy this baked pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage (esp. the sausage!). Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the UK book tour. What fun!

  48. I would consider this a baked macaroni and cheese with add-ins. I use “macaroni” loosely to mean any kind of small pasta. I hate the bother of stovetop cooking and then baking the dish, although I love the resulting mac-and-cheese. I consider baked ziti like lasagna deconstructed, easier, with tomato and some kind of white sauce. Just made some ricotta yesterday for the first time to make baked ziti (actually, rotini, in this case!) for a family with a new baby.

  49. Judy B

    Brandon- In general, margarines sometimes contain too much water to reliably make roux with, even unclarified butter can be a pain, but vegetable oils work fine, and nonfat milk should, too.

  50. Mimi

    This looks delicious and that also looks like a great pan for it! I have an Emile Henry lasagna pan that I got from Sur La Table last year and it’s also great for this type of dish.

    1. deb

      Andrea — I suggested that the sausage is really optional; that this will still be a great dish without them. You could also add mushrooms, I said, if you’re looking for that extra sans-sausage bulk.

  51. It makes me feel better that you are also feeling the stress of the season. My son began a new school and we are painting our house, which has turned out to be a disaster of simultaneous destruction to place and time, leaving my food blog without a rudder, or as you say, flat lining.

  52. Liz

    We made this last night! Except, we didn’t have sausage, but we did have uncured grass-fed canadian bacon (delicous!). And we didn’t have broccoli rabe, but we did have chard and fennel bulbs, which I sauteed instead of boiling (delicious!). I also added some fennel seeds (delicious!). The bechamel was awesome. I love broccoli rabe, so next time I have some, I’ll try it your way! :)

  53. What’s your take on milk substitutes? I’ve been using, but am weary of lactose-free milk. No scientific evidence but I am sure it cooks differently. Think soy would be a happy alternative? Almond is a bit strong for my liking and rice milk way thin. Any thoughts? Lactose-free life sucks but I don’t want to give up beautiful things like baked pasta and it’s just not the same without the bechamel!

  54. Susan

    This recipe sounds wonderful. It’s similar to something I make that is not baked. I use broccoli in mine, don’t have béchamel sauce, and do it stove-top. I like the idea of baking it and adding the sauce. It would be perfect for tonight because it is cold (for us in El Paso) and raining. The rain has thwarted some plans, but maybe it means we’re at the end of our 3-year drought? One can hope! Thanks for posting this.

  55. Shani

    We made this last night and it was sublime! The original amount of bechamel was fine even for us sauce lovers. I do think sweet Italian sausage would have been better than hot – the spiciness of the hot ever so slightly dominated the other flavors. Such a keeper!!!! I can imagine it would be lovely with lots of variations – gruyere, swiss chard, and roasted butternut squash, for example. And caramelized onions!

  56. Pamela

    I made this last night and it was loved by all, but my bechamel looked more like gravy than a smooth white sauce. I did cook it in the same pan as the sausage, so it sort of deglazed the pan, which meant more flavor to the sauce, but less smoothness and creaminess. Did you have a less traditional bechamel from using the sausage pan?

  57. Liz L.

    Totally gonna try this with the purple cauliflower that I couldn’t resist at the farmer’s market this week. I think I’ll roast it in the oven first instead of boiling it with the pasta. SO looking forward to dinner tonight now!

  58. candice

    I make something that is a lot like this, but with sauteed cauliflower+garlic, and no bechamel or sausage. (just lots of olive oil and cheeses.) This looks like a great idea!

    Also, @brandon re: bechamel, you can totally make bechamel with olive oil, I make it with olive oil and soy milk for my mom who cannot have any cow’s milk, to make cauliflower au gratin. Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini has tips on that.

  59. Mel

    Deb I am in LOVE with your blog and have a bunch of recipes saved in lists for the upcoming fall/winter season. I am so excited to add this delicious pasta!!! Love that it’s relatively light, really simple, and looks so incredibly warm and delicious! Perfect for the cooler days to come, when you want a dinner that makes you feel really snuggly and cozy :) Thank you!!

  60. Gary

    Made it last night – quite tasty. Could get away with half the sausage and a bit more veggie if you want it a little lighter (may want a bit more salt though). I thought the amount of sauce was perfect.

  61. Sue

    This looks great! I have to say, I hate ricotta in baked ziti. Annie of annies eats uses cottage cheese and sausage in hers; it’s awesome if you get a hankering for the traditional!

  62. Ale

    Birthday party… How exciting! My daughter was born two days after your Jacob, so I always look forward to a post on his cake/birthday party food ideas. One question: does Jacob “order” his birthday cake? My daughter really knows what she wants and she has already told me how she wants me to bake her cake!!!

    1. deb

      Ale — Ha! He did this year. First time. Or maybe the first time I was silly enough to ask? I also made the mistake of asking what he wanted to be for Halloween…

      Pamela — Mine was definitely not pure white either (and I used chicken sausage for this photographed version, which barely has any drippings; here’s a photo). I didn’t consider this a bad thing; it had a ton of flavor and reminded me just the tiniest bit of sausage gravy. In a good way.

      sandra — Last summer, I decided it would be a good idea to get our apartment (not even a house) painted and it was a terrible one! I complained about that on the internet too. So, I hear you. Here’s a to more mellow October!

  63. thatchern

    You know, my husband’s mother’s family (Neapolitan) add their ricotta, cold, to their hot baked ziti, instead of baking it in. Maybe they share your reservations on the texture thing. Love the looks of this; I’m going to make a vegetarian version this weekend (probably won’t use veg sausage, which in general is just plain strange, but cannelini beans instead – my “go to” bean pairing with rabe). Great looking recipe!

  64. JanetP

    This looks really good for the fall, with sausages from the farmers’ market. Yum. But I really came here to say I am so jealous of your UK book tour!! Hubby and I are planning a trip to London this winter — we haven’t been for ages. If you happen on any fab restaurants or, ya know, hotels, please speak up!

  65. Stacey

    Deb!! I live in Boulder, CO where we have been experiencing a 100-year flood the last two days. This popped up in my mailbox yesterday and I knew it sounded perfect for the weather and circumstances. I just made it out to the market before most of the streets closed, made a double batch, and served it up to our neighbors with flooded basements while the flash flood sirens wailed in the background. SO delish, good comfort, we ate every last bite and even the sweet 5-yr. old loved it! I’m whipping up a double batch of your Jacked-Up Banana Bread right now to share! Just wanted to thank you for your witty camaraderie, and for providing such great inspiration and recipes that I totally trust that I always know exactly what to expect. I’m a huge fan and love to introduce new people to your blog! Keep up the great work!!

  66. RE: kale – I did not hear that piece but I have indeed noticed that kale is rather sparse here in the smitten kitchen :) I think my relationship with kale is like that of someone spent the mid-2000’s in a another country and then comes back to the states like, “Hey, I just heard this great band on the radio. Have you heard of Outkast?” and everyone else is like “Yeah, if I hear that Hey Ya song one more time, I’mma go insane…” I had no idea there was a fervor and I pretty assumed that I invented sauteed kale in roasted sesame oil with cumin seeds. Like it was some kind of divine revelation. And then everyone’s like, “Oh, kale again…girl, please…”

  67. Akitar

    My husband and I made this last night with campanelle, chicken sausage, broccolini and 1.5x the sauce (we like the extra) and it was delicious!! A really easy-to-follow recipe with great results. I want to try it with mushrooms next time. Thanks Deb!

  68. msue

    Wow – this should come with a banner warning that this dish will inspire overeating! I made it last night for casual company, using 1.5 times the bechamel, plus I added about one cup of onions, chopped, that I cooked along with the sausage (1/2 lb mild, 1/2 lb spicy). HUGE hit. We ate it again for lunch today – still a HUGE hit. For both meals, we were tempted to gobble down an extra portion – surely there is some karmic credit for resisting – which might be rewarded with a popsicle later. :)

  69. Paola R

    Thanks for the inspiration! This definitely needs 50% more beschamel. I used spiche pasta that I found at the Italian market and some Andouille sausage (I like it hot) mixed with sweet Italian, and extra fresh mozzarella. I’m saving some in small containers to heat out of the freezer for work days.

  70. Andrea

    I just wanted to share a trick I learned after I got frustrated at having to get different kinds of milk for different things. I prefer to drink skim (a consistency thing), but most cooking is better with higher fat milk. So I figured out that if I just have a carton of cream and some skim milk, I can make anything I want! You can Google for the right ratios.

  71. Nicole J


    I used regular broccoli, sauteed some onions and garlic in the butter of the beschamel before adding the flour, and added some italian seasoning as well.

    I dished this out int four small, disposable aluminum baking dishes to freeze separately. Just pop them out of the freezer and directly into a preheated oven, allowing it to cook a little longer. It works beautifully. For me this recipe made 4 tins of 2 servings a piece. Excellent!

  72. Hannah D

    I followed the recipe to a “t” using a huge bunch of rabe, pork Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella, they had these little bitty “perline” size @ the Italian market. If I were on death row this would definitely be on my list for last meal.

  73. Julie

    I made this last night and it was delicious, my husband said it was the best thing I ever made. Thank you so much for another wonderful recipe!

  74. Brenda

    I think this may be my new favorite recipe from this site! Made it last night (with extra sauce and cheese) and it was delicious. It was the first time my husband enjoyed anything with broccoli rabe in it. Never thought I’d see the day…

  75. Josh

    Absolutely delicious! Made this last night, followed the recipe exactly. I found it needed a bit more time in the oven to get the top nice and crispy and brown. Perfect! Creamy, tasty and the sausage really adds flavor!

  76. Sweet lord, I am eating this right now and it’s amazing! My whole family is freaking out over it, except my 4 year old, but he’s a little freakish. I made the extra Bechamel version and it’s splendid.

  77. Morgan

    Had this for dinner tonight and it was excellent! I like pasta dishes saucy and I used the recipe amount of sauc and it was great!! Ioh and I also used 1% milk with about 1/4 cup cream and it was way good! I had farfalle pasta on hand, so I used that and the noodle shape was complementary, thanks for the great recipe!

  78. Jen

    Penne and ziti, rigate or lisce, are probably my least favourite pasta shapes. I think the mouth feel and how sauce adheres to it just tastes wrong and boring, and I will always pick some other shape. Even plain elbow macaroni is better. I like spirals, twists and frills on my shaped pasta. Penne is just too straight.

  79. Deb, you rock :) I threw myself a birthday party this weekend and realized that amongst my guests there would be 2 or 3 vegans. I had planned on an epic lasagna and wasn’t in the mood to forego cheese, so I was totally stumped as t what I could make as a vegan option until I came across this recipe. It ‘vegan-ized’ so well: I used the suggested Barilla Campanelle, kale (it was all I could find at the farmer’s market), sautéed mushrooms and then made up a vegan bechamel sauce and topped it off with some Daiya “mozza” shreds before baking. It ended up fantastic–the lasagna eaters ended up digging into the ‘vegan pasta’ as well :) Definitely going to re-do and try this with sausage, parm and rabe, but thank you so much for the inspiration!

  80. Kara in ROC

    I’ve been following your blog for years, but have never taken the time to write. So many of your recipes are now our family favorites. Sunday morning I was combing through my email with a cup of coffee and spotted this dish. One look and I knew what we were having for dinner. I used fresh semi-hot Italian sausage from our famous local Italian meat market with a smidge more sauce, eyeballing the cheese measurements and it was FANTASTIC! Not that I ever expected anything else!
    But, after stalking your site since your second year, I thought it long overdue to say thank you for your hard work and dedication. You are doing an awesome job and I wish you the best! Enjoy your tours! Again, thank you!

  81. ads

    Maybe I’m weird, or maybe its because I *am* Italian-American, but any baked ziti or lasagne that forgoes ricotta or includes bechamel will not cross my threshold. It just feels wrong to me, and sad and lacking. But if i were to sub the ricotta in, that would be delightful ;)

  82. Lou Ann Brown

    Really good stuff! I made this with 1c chicken broth and 1c wine because I had no milk. I did, however, use the cheeses. For the totally dairy intolerant, I would suggest blending some silken tofu into the sauce and topping with breadcrumbs mixed with garlic and olive oil.

  83. Kay

    Delicious! I used regular broccoli, added sauteed mushrooms, and made twice the sauce, and it is fantastic. After a week of torrential flooding rains in Colorado it was just the dish for yet another gray and gloomy day.

  84. joy

    This was so, so, so delicious. I made the extra bechamel and used straight broccoli instead of raab, because that’s what the CSA gave us, and in a tacky move, I subbed cottage cheese for the mozzarella because I had half a container leftover from something. God forgive me for using cottage cheese instead of mozzarella, but it worked and the dish was great. I loved it, my husband loved it, and we have tons of leftovers. Thank you!

  85. Val

    Recipe was great and very tasty – BUT your suggestion about adding more béchamel was a good one. Even after adding more, still a little dry for us and a friend I shared it with.

  86. Brilliant recipe, thanks! You know I spend a lot of time in Italy because I have a cottage in Umbria (near tuscany) .. there the flat lasagna pasta is so easy to find. I have become totally spoiled and basically do not want to eat any baked pasta that isn’t lasagna.. any ideas of where i can find it?.. and no, I am NOT desperate enough to roll it out myself!! But if I can’t find it here (Sacramento) I will try your recipe next time i go to Italy and let you know!

  87. Ok I made it!! Made it as written (with the Barilla bell shaped pasta) and just the amount of sauce Deb listed. It was DELICIOUS. When it first came out I thought oh crap I should’ve made 1.5 times the amount of sauce, but then I tasted it and it was wonderful… plus I didn’t feel heavy after finishing (like I usually do with cheesey sauces).

    Also, I don’t have a lasagna pan (lost it at thanksgiving a few years back) so I made this in a 9×9 and 3 loaf pans. Meant to freeze some, but we (two of us) ended up eating the 9×9 plus a loaf pan and gifted the other 2 loaf-casseroles.

  88. Amy

    Made this last night. Ended up making it with broccolini and broccoli since they didn’t have rabe at the store I went to in a hurry. Went over great with my 11 and 17-year old boys. The 11-year old was complaining about the greens while I was making it and wanted me to pull out some cooked pasta beforehand; I ignored him. Then he helped to make the bechamel–and tasted the sausage and bechamel before combining. He took seconds and is taking for lunch today. I love your mushroom lasagne recipe (which has the bechamel sauce base) so I figured this was going to be good, too. I always find that your recipes are perfect for the home cook–not too complicated but with interesting twists. Thanks!

  89. dianne

    Made this on Sunday and it was a huge hit with my husband. I halved most of the recipe b/c he was the only one who was going to eat it (I don’t eat meat) but I kept the bechamel as is b/c I knew he wouldn’t like it on the dry side. Definitely going to make this again and again. Thanks!

  90. Susan

    I made this last night and it was fantastic – even my picky kids loved it. I added a generous 1/4 tsp dry mustard to the sauce (because I really like mustard and sausage together) and used fresh mozzarella. Delicious. My daughter took all the leftovers for lunch today. Thank you!

  91. Leslie

    This was fantastic! Tho, I added a bag of spinach instead of broccoli rabe…I went to three different grocery stores here in Portland, OR and couldn’t find it anywhere :/. I’m sure a big Asian market we have would have had it, but I refused to drive 15 miles one way just for broccoli rabe, lol. I threw in some tomatoes from my garden too, and it was delicious!

  92. karen on the coast

    So yum — made it with broccoli and added a bit of onion and garlic-sauteed eggplant because it needed to be used up plus it helped stretch the broccoli. Had a heaping
    serving for lunch after it came out of the oven, then had seconds, so good. Had a nice portion leftover for yesterday`s and tomorrow`s lunches. The trunk and stems
    of the broccoli crown I used were sliced thin and added to this week`s pickled veggie slaw. Grape tomatoes and mushrooms were on sale on the weekend, and after halving the tomatoes and quartering the cleaned mushrooms, they were each put into
    their own jars and brined. Such great sides to this pasta dish! Eh, I have the veggie slaw with a peanut butter whole grain sandwich when I get home late and want to
    eat without having to cook. Life`s good!
    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas, Deb!

  93. RK

    I made this last night and got thumb up from my local food critic a.k.a my husband, the only problem was the broccoli rabe (bought at Whole Foods), it had a pronounce bitter taste. Is this normal?

  94. Rachel

    Made this last night with almond milk (and without the sausage). The butter and almond milk had an amazing aroma in the bechamel! highly recommend it!

  95. Alyssa

    So so delicious! I made this for dinner last night with broccoli–it was delicious last night, but the flavors really came out overnight and was so much better today for lunch. So simple to put together and I already had nearly all of the ingredients on hand in the kitchen. This recipe is perfect!

  96. Laurie

    I heard your interview on NPR as it was broadcast … serendipitous, since we’d enjoyed the kale salad just a few days before. I hadn’t you speak or seen you on TV … so there I was, saying, “oh! oh! it’s Deb! it’s Deb!” to the empty air. It was fun to hear you … and from where I sat (headed south on Southern California’s 405 freeway, near Los Angeles), you sounded charming.

  97. Cierra

    Made this twice since it was posted. My boyfriend and I work strange schedules, and this saves the freaking day when we just want to warm something up. This filled one 9×13 pan for us, as well as a 8″ circular casserole dish. I just froze half, and baked the rest. Awesome!

  98. Sara

    Y’all I made this with tuna and regular broccoli. It was great! This is a good bechamel base too. I’ve made others before but this just turns out really nice. Used whole milk mozz- whoa, is that stuff delicious!

  99. Laurie

    Probably heresy on your website to say I love Rachael Ray’s Broccoli Rabe Panini, but turning it into a pasta casserole with sausage sounds like a keeper, too. I still have half a box of cavatappi from a lobster mac & cheese recipe so will make next week!

  100. Marianne S.

    I just made this. Word for word. It’s in the oven right now. I can’t tell you how excited I am to devour this. The cubes of mozz started to get stringy while I was string everything together.

  101. Meg in VT

    Yes, I hundredth the thanks. Just what I needed on a week when I, too, was in the weeds. I stole half an hour or so in the morning to assemble this yesterday (used broccoli and kale, aka what was Still In the Garden), and heated it in time for dinner. Repeat today (minus the half hour in the morning.) Some local smoked mozzarella added a little extra goodness.Tri-color ruffles were the best-option pasta in the cupboard. Both my kids (2 and 4) and my husband and I Hoovered happily, twice. Hooray! I’m afraid I’m resorting to leaving them some (defrosted) hot-dogs for tomorrow, but this got us two nights at least!

  102. Angela

    SO VERY DELICIOUS! This is going on our home faves list. It was easy, delicious, and made a ton for leftovers. Seitan worked great in place of sausage, as did the Chinese broccoli that I had. Some stale breadcrumbs on top were brought back to life, too! Thanks, yet again, SK.

  103. karen on the coast

    Love the versatility of this dish, made it again, this time with salmon, and pickled cucumber slices on the side…mmmmm….

  104. Sherri P

    I tried this last night with kale instead of the broccoli rabe (my husband doesn’t like the bitterness and we both love kale). I added mushrooms and topped it with buttered bread crumbs mixed with Romano. The 2 of us ate
    half of the casserole in one sitting! This is a perfect cool weather casserole and will go into our rotation of favorites. Thanks, Deb!

  105. kaitlin

    I work in a residence hall and made this for a staff meeting with 5 Resident Assistants. Not a speck was left. Just wanted to let you know how appreciated it was.

  106. Marilyn H

    My husband and I loved this–especially the bites with the melted mozzarella surrounded by other goodness. We liked it with just the suggested amount of bechamel–not too dry and certainly less calories. A great recipe to mix and match what’s on hand as we used broccoli and ham with some cheese tortellini. Started cooking the broccoli for a minute, threw in the fresh tortellini for another couple of minutes and continued with the rest of the recipe–YUM!

  107. Rachel

    For anyone wondering, I made this with sliced up vegetarian sausages (browned first just as the recipe says), and it worked well! I made the recipe as given, but next time I might do the suggestion of adding more bechamel since veggie sausages don’t provide any of their own juices and are sometimes kinda dry. This is a great vegetarian hearty dinner!

  108. StephanieR

    This was a total hit in our house. I served the leftovers topped with roasted broccoli the next day and they quickly disappeared. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

  109. Emily M

    I made this tonight – with plain broccoli and the regular amount of sauce. It got an enthusiastic stamp of approval from my bf, and I enjoyed it as well. Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow. Definitely a keeper recipe!

  110. tariqata

    Made this exactly as written, except that I only had about 1 and three quarters of a cup worth of milk, so I used buttermilk to make up the difference. It gave the bechamel a subtle but nice tang that cut the richness a little. Completely delicious and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers after a late meeting I have scheduled for tomorrow!

  111. thank you for this recipe! your bechamel is simply amazing and your instructions are foolproof (as are all of your recipes!). i took some liberties to stray a bit, using rainbow chard b/c that’s what we had, and i couldn’t resist adding some good canned tomatoes to the sausage while it was browning. i’m pregnant, and when you’re craving something red = must have it now, right? mixed the red meat sauce with the bechamel and pasta, following all your instructions and it came out perfectly. this will be a go-to in our house for the holidays for sure!

  112. Katherine W

    So so so good!! Just finished a big bowl of this and it was delicious! Used ordinary pork sausage as I had some to use, and broccolini as I’ve never seen broccoli rabe for sale here (Ireland), and I found gigli pasta which was perfect!
    Thank you!

  113. Alyssa

    I made this last night with the sauce scaled x1.5 as suggested for people who like more sauce, and it was perfect. Reminded me a lot of a mac & cheese, actually. Worked great with rotini pasta, used bunches of chard and kale that I had from my CSA. Next time I would use hot italian sausage instead of sweet. Very good!

  114. Sophia

    Wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner tonight and it was a big hit. In the last few days we have eaten your butternut squash and chickpea salad, cauliflower soup, your mom’s apple cake, English muffins, oven BBQ chicken, and now this. Thank you thank you thank you!

  115. Amy

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. My husband stood over the stove after dinner eating a third helping from the pan! Thank you for the recipe!

  116. Hadley

    I made this last night for dinner! I didn’t have rabe, si I sautéed some broccoli in the pan I used for the Italian sausage, and cooked some arugula with the pasta, then added both in the final putting together. Delicious! Thanks!

  117. Maxine

    I made this recipe on Monday night, and it was amazing! Even better as leftovers the next day. I used Lightlife vegetarian ground sausage in place of the actual sausage- and it was really good. Meat eating husband really liked it, too. Will for sure make this again as the weather gets colder.

  118. Oooo, I really love this variation of the dish with bechamel sauce. I usually just make sausage and broccoli rabe on the stove top. But, I use bechamel in my lasagna instead of ricotta and mix in a variety of cheeses. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  119. Sandy S.

    I made this last night. It was AMAZING. I get really great Italian sausage from my meat CSA and have been looking for some creative ways to use it. Thanks!!

  120. Marion

    This was absolutely delicious! I made with the extra sauce and it satisfied all the mac & cheese cravings I’ve been having lately. Next time, I might try without the extra sauce to try and be a litttttle more healthy.

    1. deb

      Jamine — The recipe is for uncooked pasta, which usually comes in about 1-pound boxes. I’d estimate that they double in weight once cooked; so, probably 1/2 pound would yield 1 pound cooked, but that math is not necessary here.

  121. Kelty

    Holy smokes. This one is a keeper. We used Kale (it was on sale) and rotini noodles (couldn’t find the ones you mentioned) and it was so awesome and the leftovers got better by the day, not that it stuck around long. THANK YOU!!!

  122. Jillian

    Oh man, was this dish delicious! It brought back memories of broccoli rabe & sausage sandwiches at my Italian grandmother’s house. Only it was even better than that, because: creamy sauce.Thanks so much for another incredible recipe! This will definitely be going in the rotation.

  123. Suzanne

    Just made this dish on this sunny, fall day and it might be the best thing I’ve made in a loooooong time. I used broccoli but kept everything else the same.


    Thank you, Deb.

  124. Melissa

    Holy hot nuts, this was AMAZING!! We had a very, very rare quiet dinner as everyone was hyper-focused on gobbling this one up (husband, 4 year old and 20 month old boys). I shared the recipe with my 2nd generation Italian mother-in-law (incredible cook, moderately broccoli rabe obsessed) who loved it as well!
    Thanks you for this and for taking the fear out of cooking for me!!

  125. Michelle

    This looks so yummy! This might be a silly question but do you chop up the ends of the rabe as well? I’ve made dishes with rabe before but always take off the stems and only cook the leafy greens.

    1. deb

      Hi Michelle — I do! If they’re really woody at the end, I might trim that, but I find with that 4 to 5 minutes of boiling, the stems are absolutely ready to eat.

  126. I made this tonight with whole wheat conchiglioni, broccolini, and sauteed mushrooms. It’s delicious and the perfect dish to welcome fall! I think the amount of sauce you use is perfect. I don’t feel too guilty about going back for seconds :)

  127. Olivia

    I made this for dinner and it was wonderful! Definitely great for weeknight leftovers too! I didn’t add to the bechamel, but I did add extra mozzarella (8 oz instead of 6oz) and it was really lovely. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  128. Jessica

    Just made this last night using turkey sausage (the spicy kind) and kale, and it was amazing! Even better reheated in the oven the next day. Thank you for a great recipe!

  129. Judy

    I made this with Bionaturae gluten-free pasta, and it turned out great! I also used frozen broccoli rabe from Whole Foods. Just cut open the bag and poured a bunch into the hot cheesy pasta and stirred. Made it one step simpler. Btw, had never made a bechamel. Love it when cooking feels like a chemistry experiment. Also, I highly recommend hot pepper flakes to cut through all of the dairy.

  130. Judy

    Sorry, I should also add that I used Mochiko sweet rice flour in the bechamel instead of wheat flour. Absolutely no problems, but I think it needs to be sauted with the butter for several minutes (longer) before adding the milk. Instructions on the box.

  131. Sarah

    My children seem to have an odd aversion to baked pasta, and they definitely hate baked “soft” cheese within said pasta (ricotta, cottage cheese), but they are ok with mozzarella, so I decided to try this and replaced the rabe with just a chopped head of broccoli since I figured it was too much to hope that they would try a new green AND baked pasta in one go. I used the amount of bechamel in the recipe, and 1.5x the mozzarella simply because that’s how big the pack was. However, I think next time I’d use the stated amount of mozzarella and 1.5x the bechamel, because this was seriously the best bechamel I’ve ever made. I guess it was because of the browned sausage bits in the bottom of the pan, and maybe because of the added garlic, but whatever it was, it was a-maz-ing.

  132. Drew

    I had a leftover fennel bulb, which I sliced up and sauteed with the chicken sausage. It was a nice addition. Also added fresh thyme I had on hand. Loved the crispy peaks of pasta. Agree with others that this béchamel is really good.

  133. Samantha

    I made this recipe tonight! I upped everything by 25-50%: I loosely increased the amount of pasta/mozzarella broccoli raabe with what ever amounts I had to hand (my farmer’s market had some lovely “baby broccoli’ which didn’t need much blanching) but followed the béchamel recipe precisely with non-fat milk.

    It was delicious (even with the non-fat milk!). Thank you!

  134. Lisa

    Hi Deb, thanks again for another great recipe! I admit to being a beginner at making sauces from scratch. I’ve made the bechamel sauce for this recipe twice so far and both times it came out too runny, so I added more flour. I wonder if using white wheat flour or 2% instead of whole milk has anything to do with it?

    1. deb

      Hi Lisa — Both can affect it. See if you have more luck if you use only half whole-wheat flour first, and if that doesn’t work, try a fuller fat milk, and then a higher proportion of white flour. It doesn’t need to be a very thick bechamel, but it should nicely coat the pasta without pooling in the bottom.

  135. Jennifer

    I made this recipe last night. YUM! My fiance liked it so much that he said he hopes to see it in regular rotation. As suggested, I increased the amount of sauce by 50%. Regarding ingredients, I used sweet turkey sausage (but added a pinch of red pepper flakes when cooking) and broccoli (1.5 lbs.) instead of broccolini. Will absolutely make this dish again! Thank you!

  136. Andrea

    Stoked to see another broccoli rabe recipe!! Definitely one of my top favorite vegetables! I tried this tonight and it was superb! The only personal twists I made was using smoked mozzarella and adding 1/3 c. of panko to the remaining 1/3 c. of grated pecorino to sprinkle over the top for some extra crunch. Delicioso!

  137. Jessica B

    Absolutely delicious! We’ve been wanting to try a recipe with broccoli rabe for a while now, and I’m so glad this was the first. We omitted the sausage and added the mushrooms, as we were having it with grilled chicken thighs. We did not increase the bechamel, and used 1 pkg of finely shredded Italian cheese, with a very light topping of plain bread crumbs. The texture was exceptional, not dry at all, and not goopy either. This will definitely become part of our regular rotation, and next time I’m going to try baking half and freezing half to use later. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!!

  138. Kimberly

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I made a few adjustments based on what we had available. Next time I will skip par boiling the broccoli rabe, but this is just because we have a preference for extra crispy broccoli rage. The recipe as written is wonderfully balanced, easy to assemble, and perfect for a make ahead meal. Thanks, Deb, for another great meal!

  139. Bethany

    I make Pasta With Garlicky Broccoli Rabe on a regular basis and was super excited to try this. As a recovering vegetarian I’m still really hesitant to work with raw meat but I successfully used Italian chicken sausage in making this tonight. Thank you, SK, for getting me over my fear of raw meat!

  140. Courtney in Oakland

    I overcooked everything but the béchamel by accident. Still delightful! TJ’s didn’t have broccoli rabe so I used broccolini and kale leaves. It was great served with an arugula and beet salad.

  141. C.P.

    Hi Deb,

    Quick question, about how much Bechamel sauce total would you say this recipe yields? I have some sauce left over from another recipe and I wanted to use the extra here, but I couldn’t figure out if I had enough. I’m guessing from your recipe that it comes to about 2 cups, once the sauce has thickened slightly and cooled?

    I’m a forever lover of your site! (and your book!) I often credit you as the person who taught me how to cook.

    Thanks for the help!

  142. alexys

    I modified the recipe to include 2 bunches of kale and 1 broccolini and a sweet basil chicken sausage and slightly more cheese and it was killller!

  143. Hillary

    Veganized this recipe last night using veggie sausage and kale, and used a coconut milk bechemel base (added some pumpkin to the bechamel and sausage sautee, lovely!)

  144. Natalie

    I made this tonight as one of the entrees for a dinner party of 15 and it was fantastic. I used 1.5x the sauce and cheese as recommended. I made it about 5 hours ahead of time, put it in the fridge, and baked for 40 mins (25 mins with foil, 15 without). The one change I made was for the parm on top, I mixed it with Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs to give it extra crunch. Got rave reviews. Bechemel sauce was great and easy to make. Thank you so much Deb!

  145. Coco

    Making – and, of course, eating – this was the perfect respite from my finals studying tonight. I substituted broccoli & cauliflower for the rabe and cheddar for the parm and mozzarella, as I had none of the three on hand. I also halved the pasta and doubled the broccoli/cauliflower mix. It came out like a golden, toothsome version of broccoli cheddar soup. I can’t wait to try it with the rabe and some mushrooms. Thank you for this!

  146. Patience

    Well Deb, I had never heard of Baked Ziti before – obviously it isn’t as common amongst Italian-Australians as with Italian-Americans! But how wonderful it is! We have had it twice using your recipe. I have had to use plain old broccoli because I couldn’t get broccoli rabe, but it was fantastic. I used 350g of pasta, sausage and broccoli (slightly less than your 1 pound) but kept with your full quantity of bechamel sauce – perfect. Thank you!

  147. Leslie

    I subbed sauteed baby bella mushrooms for the sausage (for a vegetarian version) and cut the amount of pasta in half, but used the listed amount of bechamel and mozzarella. I baked it all in an 8×8 pan, which worked fine. The flavor was great, although in the future I will probably use less of the bechamel sauce. I did think 5 minutes was too long for the broccoli rabe, which ended up a bit soggy…although I didn’t really notice that once it was all baked.

  148. Yum! A little feedback to share: I used mild sausage, as I was making a batch to bring to a friend who recently had a baby, but I wish I’d used something spicier (and/or a better quality, perhaps?). The mild sausage didn’t really cut through the richness of the dish, especially since I did indeed double the sauce.

  149. Pam

    We just made this for the first time tonight and it was amazing. We 1.5 times the bechemel and it was perfectly creamy. Best thing we’ve made in a long time. Thank you!

  150. Margaret

    I just want you to know that I’ve made this 3 or 4 times in the past couple of months and it’s definitely one of my favorite recipes here. I used a mixture of hot italian sausage and chorizo in my most recent iteration, and it was awesome.

    I’ve had success breaking up the process if I know that I won’t have time to do it all in one night. I use my large saute pan to cook the sausage, put it in the baking dish, then saute/steam the broccoli in the same pan and store it with the sausage – later on I will only need to boil the pasta and make the bechamel. I also like to give myself one less thing to wash by mixing the pasta//bechamel/etc in the baking dish, since I’ve already got the sausage and broccoli in there. I may try adding some other veggies next time, I am thinking some artichoke hearts or spinach might be nice additions (more greens makes me feel less guilty about the excessive amounts of cheese that I like to use).

    1. Emily

      I know that I’m replying almost five years after you wrote this comment, but I just wanted to say that this comment is helpful – I’m thinking of cooking tonight (because I’ll be busy later this week), but kind of dreading it. Maybe I’ll just do the broccoli and sausage now and the pasta and bechamel tomorrow!

  151. Oh my goodness. I made a half batch of this for dinner last night, and now I am really wishing I’d made a full 9×13 pan. Added onions and used broccoli and spinach. Phenomenal. My husband said we could sell it. (Not that we’d want to share…)

  152. Nicole S.

    Delicious!! I left out the sausage, and used spinach instead. The sauce is delicious, and smells wonderful while baking. Smitten kitchen never fails me!! Thank you.

  153. sarah b.

    thank you so much for this recipe! i needed something to congratulate myself for making it to thursday night and this was just the thing – i subbed broccoli because that’s what we could find and used a garlic/basil/pine nut pork sausage from whole foods. lovely, and so simple! i didn’t increase the amounts of bèchamel or cheese as we have sensitive bellies and your ratios were just perfect for us. thanks again.

  154. sarah b.

    oops, forgot to add: all of the dishes were done by the time dinner was on the table! that’s a well-planned recipe if i’ve ever seen one!!

  155. shanebg

    I loved this dish, but because I’m a vegetarian, I used crimini mushrooms in lieu of the sausage, and oh my! mouth wateringly good!. also I just used whole wheat bowtie pasta I had lying around, so yummy. This has become a staple dish in our household!

  156. Kati

    I made this tonight and it is delectable!!
    I’d like to make it again for brunch this Sunday, but of course, am taking your advice and only preparing dishes ahead of time.
    Could I pull this off if I assembled it the night before and stored it in the fridge overnight and then popped it in the oven in the morning? Or should I bake it the night before and then try re-heating it in the morning? I appreciate your input!

    1. deb

      Kati — You could do either. It reheats well and it should be just fine for baking right before you need it. Enjoy! (This is one of our archive favorites, and I’m making it this week too!)

  157. Caterina

    I made this as written last night except for the addition of some chopped onions to the sausage mixture and some chili flake to the bechamel. This is the baked pasta dish of my dreams. Perfect dish for a snowy, cold Sunday.

  158. Jenn

    This was amazing. I love broccoli rabe so anything I can use it in makes me happy. My 9 year declared it the best ever. Definitely going into the rotation. Love your site! Everything I’ve made from here has gotten rave reviews.

    The only thing I did differently was to use my big Le Cruset pot to cook the pasta and broccoli rabe. After draining them, I put them back in the pot and added the other parts as they were done and then threw that in the oven. Saved washing a pot. Though when I make a batch to freeze I’ll likely bake it in lasagna dishes.


  159. I just made this for a girls’ dinner tonight, and it was amazing! Everyone loved it. I followed the recipe to a tee (except for the type of pasta – used ziti from a box). I was debating doing the 1.5x cheese & bechamel, but I’m glad I didn’t, because I thought there was plenty of sauciness. This is seriously the best dish for a cold Sunday evening – and one that you could enjoy all week if you’re only making it for two. My husband is going to be very jealous that he can’t eat the leftovers, since he’s gluten-free. Next time I’ll make it with a gluten-free pasta and Cup 4 Cup flour!

  160. Kristine

    I made this the night before New Years eve and did everything but bake it. I put it in the fridge overnight and baked it right before lunch was served for the party. I did not even get any because it was gone so fast! Obviously everyone liked it. No one said anything because they were all eating and no one was talking. That’s a good sign!

  161. Jane

    I made this tonight with farfalle, broccoli, and 1.5 times the béchamel. My 4 year old told me it was the best thing our kitchen ever made! I thought it was delicious, too! The only change I might make next time would be to leave the pasta a little bit less cooked before I put it in the oven.

  162. Samantha

    This recipe has become one of my go-to supper dishes. I add a 1lb more sausage, 50% more sauce and as much firm mozzarella as I have to hand. It is quick (~30 minutes preparation time, with a little help) and delicious (my 5-year old loves it). THANK YOU.

  163. For those wondering about a non-dairy option, I have had success in a tuna casserole subbing a kind of rioux made from chicken stock, flour, and mayonnaise. For pestos, I just add more nuts (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts are all fine, and leave off/out the cheese. My son is dairy-intolerant, so we get creative!

  164. Gina

    Hi! I’m so excited to make this tomorrow. Your pasta with garliky broccoli rabe is such a hit for my three boys! Would you recommend fresh mozzarella for this or a Polly-o block of mozzarella? Thanks in advance!

    1. deb

      Gina — You can use either. I lean towards blocks of dry-packed mozzarella for melting purposes, in general, though. No need for the added expense if you’re going to cook it. Those fresh-in-water ones are better for cold sandwiches and caprese salads.

  165. Mimi (another one :)

    I made this tonight, with Swiss chard (Mangold) instead of broccoli rabe. Pasta shape was large orecchiette, and I added some carrot slices. I also put some of the cheese into the bechamel, I just like it that way.

    It was really tasty and even my 3 kids ate it, even the green parts :-D
    Lucky that our butcher had salsiccia today, normally I can’t find it anywhere. I will definitely do this again soon.

  166. Alex

    I made this tonight with fusilli, and added mushrooms (that had been sauteed with half a diced onion and about 2 cloves of garlic, minced), and a bit more sausage (about 1.4lbs) that was half spicy italian half mild italian, and then I omitted any extra red pepper flakes that I’d considered adding to the pasta/meat/broccoli mix. I did not make any extra sauce and it was perfect for us, we’re not into overly creamy pastas and like more of the extras vs. the pasta itself. I also accidentally grated quite a bit more nutmeg (maybe 1/2 a teaspoon instead of a frew grates) but it worked and the sauce was sinfully good.

    With a 9×13 pan, it took a bit over 30 minutes to get a crispy top. We ate about 1/3 of it between two of us (salad on the side) and froze the rest!

    This is a winning dish, thank you so much for all of your amazing recipes!!!

  167. Patti White

    This was so delicious! I have never had broccoli rabe before and it was really perfect with the chicken sausage and cheeses. Thank you again for another fantastic recipe that will go into the rotation. :)

  168. Karen Brown

    We made this last night – subbing broccoli for broccoli rabe (not to be found around here for love or money). Delicious! Your recipes are consistently reliable and delicious – thank you!

  169. Mochitwo

    Just made this tonight and we loved it (without extra béchamel). The market didn’t have broccoli rabe today and regular broccoli worked fine. One tip, I halved the recipe and it filled a “large” mixing bowl. For the full recipe, I’d say you need a giant bowl.

  170. I made this and froze half of it. As usual, Deb knocked it out of the park! I used broccoli instead of broccoli rabe, but otherwise I made the recipe as written. I might increase the bechamel as suggested in the notes, but only because I am a sauce fiend. It was perfect and froze beautifully!

  171. Every time I need a recipe, I simply type into Google the ingredients that I have and hope for the best… thankfully it OFTEN leads me to your blog. I don’t know if we’re of the same mind when it comes to our shopping habits or what, but I have come back to you for years now, knowing that your recipes are not only delicious, but flexible to the ingredients that anybody may have on hand. Today I searched “roasted sausage with broccoli cauliflower” and looked at the image results and was immediately drawn to this casserole. You are a true artist and you’ve made cooking and baking– skills I thought I would never be good at– into not just a simple pursuit, but an absolute breeze and also a joy in my life. Thank you so much– I don’t know if you read the comments on your older recipes, but know that I’ve been a longtime fan and that I always refer people to your blog. You have such a natural talent for writing recipes for wholesome, simple and fulfilling foods.

    1. deb

      Yes, but to be completely and totally honest, it’s not even my favorite to bake with. I feel like the stuff that comes in water doesn’t melt as stretchy and lovely as the plastic-wrapped stuff; that it’s better for slicing and eating cold with salad (hiii caprese). But, both work so use what you have.

      1. Nancy Asin

        Thanks. I sort of figured that but had some fresh left over from something else. Since this will be for a friend’s post-surgery dinner, I’ll spring for the gooey stuff.

        I appreciate your response.

      1. Nancy Asin

        i made this today, increasing the amount of be bechamel, and it was delicious. There were 4 of us, and it easily could have served 8. Thanks for all of your great recipes!

        1. Catherine

          Hi! Thinking of making this for a huge NYE slumber party extravaganza we’re having at our house. (12 families crammed into our house and lots of food needed!) how do I make this to freeze ahead of time? Thanks!

    1. Stacey

      For vegetarian, I suggest adding porcini mushrooms and using the soaking liquid in place of half the milk. Then add earthy mushrooms sautéed instead of sausage.

  172. Sarah

    This looks amazing! Could I assemble it all earlier in the day (aka when my daughter is in preschool and I have a moment of quiet ) and then bake in the evening?

  173. I made this again for the second time and it is so wonderful. To me, plenty of sauce as written, and even with lots of broccoli rabe, my teenager had 2 servings. Thank you!

  174. Suzy

    Finally made this — it’s been on my list for a while. I only had 1/2 pound of sausage so I added 1/2 a diced onion and 5 oz mushroom to the sauté. It was excellent! Made the sauce as listed in the recipe, and my bunch of rabe was very large. It turned our plenty moist for us and filled a 9×13 Pyrex pan nicely. This one will definitely go into the rotation!

  175. Nicole

    Deb! I’m making this for dinner company tomorrow night! Can you think of any other side dish (except mushrooms) that would go well with this aside from a salad?? Thanks for being my favorite food blogger ever :D

  176. Sue

    My college age daughter is an admitted foodie and we share a love of cooking. She loves your site and has made your peanut butter chocolate cheesecake as a ‘dry run’ for Thanksgiving. It was the best thing I have ever eaten, so I sat down this afternoon to explore your site. I just made this broccoli rabe and sausage baked pasta. One word – perfect. Thank you so much. I will really look forward to enjoying your site and your cookbook and sharing the experiences with both of my daughters.

    1. Ashley W

      I just made this so good. I think the amount of bechamel is fine but I wouldn’t be upset if there were more. I used large shells. I didn’t have Italian sausage but I had ground chicken and added bell pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, marjoram, oregano, fennel and a pinch of sugar and it was great. Next time I’ll try making a bit more and see if I like it better. Cause there will be a next time :).

  177. Carissa

    Made this exactly as written – with broccoli option – and did not 1.5 anything. Even my cheese loving husband thought it was perfect as is! So delicious, thank you!!

  178. Molly

    Just made this for a dinner party, huge hit!!! I kept the recipe as is (didn’t 1.5 the sauce) and it was still rich and cheesy!!! Thanks for the great recipe.

  179. Lena

    I’ve made this twice. My family really enjoyed this recipe, particularly my mom who doesn’t like anything resembling “white” sauce (with the exception of béchamel for moussaka or pastitsio). So the sauce was light enough to “pass” between her lips.

    I made a big batch to freeze; hopefully it will defrost and cook well.

    For anyone who wants to make the béchamel with a lighter milk (or just plain wants to make a richer sauce), add an egg (or two) to the sauce when it’s slightly cooled (so it doesn’t scramble).

  180. This was scrumptious—definitely one of those “greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts recipes! I thought so, as did the several people who I shared the dish with. It also reheated surprisingly well in the microwave . . . better than most pastas I’ve made.

    The only adjustment I made was to add more pepper and nutmeg to the bechamel (I pretty much add more spice to every recipe, that’s just my personal taste preference).

    I used campanelle, and I seriously think it added to the dish’s appeal.

  181. Ann

    Of all the Smitten recipes that have worked their way into our heavy rotation, this is the undisputed champ. I make it with Trader Joe’s spinach + fontina + roasted garlic chicken sausage; TJ’s whole wheat rotini; go 1.5 times on the bechamel as suggested; use baby broccoli instead of rabe (and double the amount called for), and add sautéed baby Bella mushrooms. As if I hadn’t messed with the original recipe enough, my kids also renamed it. They call it Awesome Pasta. With the tweaks, it makes a ton, but it freezes so well. We almost always have a pan or 3 in the freezer. Deb, you won my heart with this one.

  182. Stephanie

    Unclear from the instructions here, does he pasta get cooked fully before baking or should you leave it on the very al dente side to finish cooking as it bakes?

  183. Shelbi

    Just made this. So so good! My husband said “I know this is pasta but somehow I don’t feel so bad after eating it”. Mission accomplished!

    1. Brittany

      I would like to make this dish, but then immediately freeze it for later (like in the next week). Should I just make and bake it as suggested, then freeze it or would you do anything different if you are planning to freeze it right away?

  184. CAS

    I’ve made this a million times — for family, friends, & myself — and don’t know why I’ve never commented.

    This is the rare recipe that can be made without any adjustment and turn out perfect every time. I mean, you should probably taste your béchamel before combining everything, I guess. But it’s going to be great. A totally reliable, & for me a never-get-sick-of, dish.

  185. nfranklin2015

    I may have just made this with good kielbasa cut in quarter-moons, kale, fresh mozz, and penne, cause that’s what I had on hand that needed using. I regret nothing. I froze two-thirds of it as we have company coming at the end of the month. They’re gonna love it!

  186. nicolefw

    Excellent, yummy, squishy and full of flavor; a bi-weekly dinner perhaps.
    Thank you. Couldn’t find rabe at my Whole Foods OR the Toscani, but used broccoli and farfalle and spicy chicken sausage — yum. And now, I have your peanut butter swirl brownies in the oven. Will let you know about them tomorrow.

  187. Maybe I ate half a pan of this delightful pasta just now?! Holy cow–this was good! I used a kale and broccoli salad mix (from a bag) instead of broccoli rabe and added a pinch of red pepper flakes to the top. Ahhhhh-mazing! Can’t wait to make it again next week. Thanks for sharing, Deb!

  188. Rebekah

    Made this tonight because I had a bundle of broccolini in the crisper slowly wilting. Yes, it was 8pm when I started, and yes, I had to run to the store for pasta that wasn’t angel hair, and yes, I ate it straight from the oven.

    I did double the béchamel and it was worth it. Deb, you mighty pasta bake hero, you’ve done it again. This and your mushroom marsala bake are my favorites, and I made a pan of the latter and froze it while we were away for Christmas break for two weeks. It was the best thing to come home to.

    Next project might be attempting to do your spaghetti pecorino pie with spaghetti squash. That counts as diet, right?

  189. Cammy

    This was my first attempt at baked pasta. I made this for dinner last night and it was really good!

    I used italian sausage–half sweet, half hot–broccolini, and pecorino romano. I couldn’t find the recommended pasta shapes so I just used a fancy looking rigatoni, but the package didn’t say how long to cook it (??) and I think I went over by a minute or two. It was still really good, but next time since it’s baking too I’ll be sure not to overcook the pasta. I also would bump up the greens next time. I used two broccoli bunches and it definitely could have handled a few extra handfuls of something. I loved the sauce level too, since my husband thinks he doesn’t like cream sauce and I love it. No complaints!

  190. Jane

    This was really easy to make and delicious! I didn’t have mozzarella or whole milk. The sauce works fine with 2% (which is what I had). Also I used the same wide pot for everything. I can see why some people would 1.5x the sauce and I def. want to make it with a little bit more sauce but it was still great written as is! Thanks!

  191. Marilyn

    I made this recipe last night and it was a definite hit!!! I used broccolini, cremini mushrooms & increased sauce as suggested. Cooked for 4 but could serve 8!!! Can’t wait to eat the leftovers!! Thank you Deb for your brilliance.
    Hope to catch you on book tour.

  192. Melissa K.

    As a tomato-hater, I’m constantly searching for baked pastas that i’ll Actually enjoy, and this was PERFECT. I made this today with regular broccoli (no broccoli rabe at my grocery store this week!) and my family devoured this. This will definitely go into my regular rotation.

  193. Andrea

    I was looking for a sausage pasta dish and this is what I ended up making. I was initially worried that we would have leftovers for days but it looks like we will barely have a serving left. Some changes I made: I used 1lb sausage and 1lb pork. We like our pasta-to-meat ratios more balanced. I used fresh kale instead of broccolini. I still have kale growing in the garden so it was a perfect substitution. I removed the stems and cut leaves into pieces. I massaged the kale with olive oil and salt, then added it raw into the final mixture before placing into the baking dish. My husband told me to add this into our dinner rotation!

  194. Nancy Woolfson

    Looking forward to making this. Question: Can I use fresh mozz instead of the hard kind? Thanks for all the recipes, good meals and new traditions.

    1. Hendy

      I made this for the third or fourth time the other night, it is becoming a staple, and I think it is very adaptable. I certainly use all sorts of different cheeses depending on what I have to hand, both hard and soft cheese. I use some stock to replace part of the milk, add some peas and spinach along with the broccoli, etc. So use whatever mozzarella you like, Nancy!

  195. Amanda

    This looks amazing! And fancy enough for Christmas dinner to go along side a ham.
    Question : do you think I can make it a day ahead? How would you adjust cooking time?

  196. Steve

    So I’m devouring my way through site one recipe at a time. This one was wonderful! I did increase the amount of bechamel and sub’d 8oz vermont sharp cheddar for the mozz, incorporating that into the bechamel off heat. Grocer only had broccolini on hand. but it turned out lovely. I super enjoyed blanching the greens while the pasta finished cooking! Had a couple guests for dinner and they raved about it. All had seconds. I sauteed and roasted some grape tomatoes as a side since growing up my mom always served “mac and cheese” with stewed tomatoes. Utilized campanelle for the recipe. One guest commented how wonderfully distributed the sauce was throughout compared to other mac and cheese recipes he’s had. I contribute that to the pasta shape being so large/wide. Thank you for the lovely recipe Deb!

  197. Deborah Murphy

    I was nervous to try this recipe since I’ve had some epic fails with broccoli rabe in the past. But, I know I’ve liked it at restaurants so I gave it one more shot. It came out great! Thanks! Sincerely, Hungry DINK

  198. Mary

    I just made this and I could not stop eating it! So yummy. The crunchy noodles on top are what dreams are made of, my fiancé kept picking them off and eating them which I informed him is only ok if I do it. I had only 12oz of pasta,not a whole pound, so that’s what I used. I still used the full bechemel recipe and reduced the broccoli rabe, mozzarella, parm, and sausage by a tiny bit. Still filled a 9×13 pan and could easily feed 6. Delicious, will definitely make again.

  199. Stacey

    Made this yesterday with regular broccoli (all I could find at my store) and some mushrooms I had. A big hit with the whole family. Did not need to up the sauce. Will be making it again.

  200. bethany

    This is so incredible, like everything that was ever good and delicious rolled into one, not to mention there will be LEFTOVERS which makes my mamma heart sing and my children are eating a green vegetable as a bonus. Best baked pasta dish every. The rapini isn’t bitter, the sausages are spread out beautifully and the cheese is the PERFECT amount. I adore you and your website and your recipes.

  201. Rosie

    I loved the look of this recipe but was feeling a bit too lazy to make bechamel (sacrilege, I know) and I also couldn’t find broccoli rabe in East London, so I mixed it up: I stirred lemon zest from a whole lemon into a pot of ricotta as my bechamel substitute, and sauteed a good couple of handfuls of kale in the sausage fat, and added both of these to the broccoli-pasta-sausage-pecorino mix in my bowl (I ditched the mozzarella too because ricotta).

    It. Was. Amazing! A lighter, lemonier, quicker alternative to a delicious pasta bake. 10/10 would recommend. Thanks for another winner, Deb!

  202. macfadden

    I made the vegetarian version with mushrooms instead of sausage as suggested in the intro, and used broccoli instead of broccoli rabe. It was delicious! I didn’t think it needed more bechamel.

  203. Hi Deb!
    I just made this last night and it was super yummy! I did the broccolli version and added about 300g of sliced white mushrooms. I did not increase the bechamel and found it to be the perfect amount of sauce. Thanks for another winner!

  204. Jamie Rohe

    I LOVE this dish, 5 stars! I subbed broccoli b/c I’m afraid to try rabe; also subbed gouda for mozzarella b/c… add a bit more flavor? Mmmmm just perfect.

  205. Lo

    I made this with gluten-free pasta and tapioca flour for the bechamel and it was still great! I also added frozen chopped spinach while sautéing the sausage to get in some more greens. It was a great dish and so versatile!

  206. FizzyBlonde

    This is so good. Perfect Friday night supper. The only caveat is that it makes a LOT. Could easily feed 6 to 8 people generously. Another winner from SK.

  207. rzh

    This is not exactly abstemious—I found it very rich and cheesy—but it is delicious, easy to throw together and a nice change from a tomato-based dish! I will certainly make this again. Maybe with double the broccoli.

  208. Earlybird03

    Amazingly delicious. Definitely don’t need to double the bechamel/cheese. I mixed mild and spicy Italian sausage to not over power. Next time I think I’ll reduce the sausage to 3/4 lb. The Seggiano Toscani pasta is ~14 oz package, so the meat to pork ratio is a little off.

  209. Anna McG

    I’m joining the chorus to say that this is amazing! I made it with a small bundle of broccolini, and in the future I’ll add more broccolini and reduce the sausage a little (though my husband will argue about that). I used cavatappi and otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It made two full dinners and a few lunches for my family, and was well worth the hour on Sunday afternoon. A new favorite!

  210. Lisa

    This may be my favorite at home pasta dish ever. I like to add some sautéed mushrooms & also dial back the cheese a little by only sprinkling some on top rather than mixing any in. Still rich & delicious – and lots and lots of leftovers! Even when the hungry 18 yo swimmer is home. Thank you :)

  211. Mira

    We made this tonight. It took me about 45 minutes from start to finish.
    I thought that the dish was great, incorporated meat, carbs, and veggies :)

    Thank you!
    PS: I pick out the crispy noodles while I serve the family. Love those precious little crunchy bites.

  212. Sarah

    Yay! I made this the other night and love, love, love it! I omitted the sausage and doubled the broccolini (my grocery store didn’t have broccoli rabe) and kept everything else the same. This was my first ever bechamel- so glad I gave this recipe a try and didn’t wimp out :)

    1. Brittany

      I would like to make this dish too, but then immediately freeze it for later (like in the next week). Should I just make and bake it as suggested, then freeze it or would you do anything different if you are planning to freeze it right away? I tried to look on the comments for a response to this, but could not find one.

  213. Wow… such a great recipe! Super tasty. I salted well every step of the way and it h just came out so full of flavor. I made my own sweet Italian sausage with fennel, oregano, salt & pepper and added sliced mushrooms to our as well.

    I think 1.5-ing the bechamel would’ve been too creamy for me, I’m glad I didn’t. I did double the recipe however and brought 1 pan over to some friends with a brand-new baby- I’m always struggling to find the right recipe for new baby situations and I think I found the perfect one! Thank you, thank you for another great recipe!

  214. So so so delicious. Made this the other day and it is definitely going on my week night routine. Makes a large amount that can be eaten throughout the week! Also very excited to bring this as a sharing dish to my next potluck. Only thing is that I feel like I could have added more veggies – excited to try with mushrooms next time!

  215. Awads

    I made this exactly as written and it was a dream meal! I worried that it might be too dry b/c the bechmel isn’t a whole lot. but it was perfection! We all had seconds (even though i promised myself i would not!) There are only 3 of us, so i froze half of it (after baking) and am excited to have that on-hand for next week when i have no time to cook. I would recommend this as a meal fit for company, too (it took me a total of 75 minutes from start to finish, by the way).

  216. Mara

    I love your recipes but I consistently have trouble printing them. The Printer Icon won’t work form my phone and when I use it at my Desktop, it prints the entire post rather than just the recipe. I am doing something wrong?
    Can you help????

    1. deb

      CTRL + P (or the equivalent comment from your computer) from this recipe post and will take you to a streamlined print template — just tested it and it works here.

  217. Patty Eggen

    Worth the hype. Holy cow is this good. I should have used more broccoli rabe but I was afraid (broccoli rabe virgin). Definitely get the pasta with the fun edges. I did not double sauce and do not think you need to. Make this. Today.

  218. This is on constant rotation in our house – it reheats well, tastes better as leftovers, it’s a crowd-pleasing potluck dish, and comes together relatively fast. I sub with broccoli or broccolini (I double the veggies, personal preference) and mix and bake the whole thing in the pan I make the bechamel in, to save on dishes. This is the recipe that taught me how to make a bechamel! You want the pasta on the tougher side of al dente, it’ll cook further with the moisture from the cheese and veggies. I keep going back in for more, even when I’m full.

  219. Althea

    Hi Deb,
    Planning to make this for a holiday gathering this weekend. What type of Mozzarella did you use — the wet type found in balls or dry as in the pizza variety?
    Can’t wait to taste this casserole!

    1. deb

      I always use the kind not in water — either packed dry or with just a tiny amount of water (bel gioso or the like). The stuff in the water makes things too soggy, IMHO, and I prefer it for fresh uses, like salads.

  220. Molly

    This is a regular stand-by for us—delicious, hearty, and easy as long as I mise.

    Tried it with collard greens for the first time today, as my grocery was out of rapini. DELISH. Just in case, I 1.5’d the béchamel (and mozzarella), which I never usually do, and the outcome is terrific. Can definitely recommend collards as a substitute!

  221. Chandana

    Just made this and it was beyond delicious. I reduced the pasta and sausage amounts by a quarter (because I wanted slightly fewer servings), kept the bechamel amounts the same to make it saucier and added in frozen peas and some anchovy and lemon zest to the bechamel. I found it wasn’t quite saucy enough so also added in a few tablespoons of pasta water.

    Seriously, ridiculously delicious! Perfect January food.

  222. Jen

    I make this dish regularly and LOVE it so much! I am planning to make it for an upcoming girls weekend trip, but I need to double the quantity and freeze ahead for travel. I am not very experienced with doubling recipes and am wondering if it’s as simple as doubling all of the ingredients? Also, how will/would this affect cooking temp and time if assembling and freezing ahead?


    1. Katen

      Do you bake and freeze and if so what are the directions you give the new parents? Or do you freeze before baking so it is not baked twice and if so, what directions do you give the new parents

  223. Kathy

    I finally made this after years of lurking on this recipe. Verdict- no need to increase the béchamel, portions are great, and it’s fast enough to throw together on a work night. Awesome! Now I’m just deciding what other veggies I an throw in to sneak past my toddler. Thanks!

  224. Gina

    I made this yesterday and it was amazing. I followed the recipe exactly, with only one difference. When I make baked pasta, I only cook the pasta for 2 minutes. As it bakes in the oven, it finishes cooking. I find when I boil it for more than that, it overcooks in the oven and not much more I hate than mushy pasta. This dish was an absolute home run and I will probably 4x the recipe and make it for Easter.

  225. Elena

    My sister and I could not stop eating this!! It is so comforting (especially during this time of social distancing and restaurants being closed – as reminder to people seeing this years from now COVID-19 is in full swing). It’s easy to make and so flavorful. We subbed broccoli rabe for broccolini because I don’t love broccoli rabe and used a little less than 1 lb. of pasta. It was the perfect amount of sauce for us.

  226. Kerry

    I’ve made this probably a dozen times now and it never disappoints. Always make it as written, the only exception is occasionally I have to use regular broccoli when I can’t find broccoli rabe, either way it’s delicious!!

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  228. Rebecca

    This is my go-to meal for friends who are about to have babies (at least in the fall/winter months). It always gets rave reviews, and I always make extra for myself. Love it.

  229. Andrea

    I have made this many times, always a hit with the teenagers. Tonight I didn’t have rabe and didn’t wnat to make a lockdown run for just one item, so used roasted cauliflower and onion instead. Yum. I am late to the joys of cooking pasta in the Instant Pot but am a HUGE fan especially for this type of casserole receipe as the tiny bit of leftover pasta water is high in starch and perfect for either adding to the bechamel or drizzling over the final dish to add some moistness while it bakes. Perfect for leftover for the teenage vultures, hangry after a day Zooming through classes.

    1. Emily

      Boil—but to a point that’s undercooked, even by al dente standards—and mix the pasta into the bechemel sauce, but then freeze without baking it, and without the Parmesan on top. (You can freeze in smaller dishes for solo meals or side dishes; I use Pyrex dishes with covers, but still with a layer of wrap pressed directly onto the pasta to prevent freezer burn.) Take it out of the freezer to defrost the night before, if you can remember to—though when desperate I’ve cooked it from close to frozen, or left out on the counter for an hour before. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top (and I often drizzle a little milk into the corners of the dish just to add some liquid back since it’s been dry in the freezer) and bake—foil covered for a good amount of the time, and then uncovered to brown. It’s GREAT—ideal dish for the freezer. I almost always have some there for when I know I won’t have time to cook. Once I eat the last small dish of it, I find a time I can make a batch and then split it up again for individual meals, and repeat it all.

  230. Annie

    Made this tonight and it was great! I used it to clean out the fridge so I also added about a half bag of spinach that I fried/wilted in the sausage oil.

  231. Karen Fischer

    I would love a weight for the broccoli substitution, but I am going to wing it. I am newly in Florida trying to find what I considered basic ingredients in CT is a whole new ballgame! There is a Whole Foods, but it is a trip that must be planned.

    Thank you for all of your inspiration! It is so hard to change up that rotation of favorite recipes. You make it easy!

  232. Susan

    Stellar! This was huge hit and the leftovers are divinely delicious. I will make a smidge more béchamel next time since I used bowtie pasta and they drank every drop of the yummy sauce. Not a problem but I do like more moisture for the leftover reheat.

  233. Katrina

    YUM! We made this with cannellini beans in place of sausages so had to adjust the spices/salt accordingly but still absolutely delish. I used a combo of parmigiano, pecorino, and monterey jack because that’s what we had.

  234. Sarah

    yummmmm!! Just made this! Tasty and delightful, but you don’t feel icky after like Deb said. I added extra broccolini (I feel like kale could be great here too?!) and added a lil extra bechamel and cheese, just eyeballed. It wasn’t too saucy but just right! Also added some breadcrumbs on top, but I don’t know that it needed it. It got pretty crunchy on its own!

    Mine baked for over 30 min, but she was thicc!

    This will go into our rotation for sure!

  235. mt

    mmm 1/2 batch using what I had in house (Barilla Cellentani, 4 oz of pearl mozz balls, fresh kale). 10″ ovensafe saute pan: sauteed chopped onion, garlic and crushed red pepper, added flour till cooked, whisked in warm milk. Stirred in pasta/kale, and the cheeses. No Sausage, no Mushrooms.

    Baked in the sautee pan, 20mins at 400 (covered with foil for first 10 minutes or so)

  236. Oh my goodness. This amazing and a game changer for my family with 3 kids under 5. I used regular broccoli cut smaller because I didn’t have any broccoli rabe (sad story, but such is life when you decide to make dinner at 4:45). It came together so easily and quickly – I was even able to whisk the bechamel sauce one-handed while I held a small screaming human in the other. If I can do that, you can make this recipe. And my kids (broccoli haters) devoured this because it was SO delicious. Thank you for creating such delicious and parent accessible recipes! You deserve a special place in heaven.

  237. Corinne

    This is one of my favorite meals ever. We make it at least every 6-8 weeks and the leftovers make lunch at work worth looking forward to. I think the only change I make is using whole milk shredded mozzarella because, lazy, and I just dump in a full 8 oz bag. And maybe extra Parmesan because I just shred until it looks good and then add more on the top.

  238. Sabrina

    OMG loved this…been meaning to make for years.
    Used Hot Beyond Sausage and maybe added a little more milk due to Deb’s notes, but it was so delicious and my 4 year old ate not only rabe but also hot veg sausage…nothing short of miraculous.

  239. Ruth Davis

    So glad I remembered this dish tonight when I had a few lovely sausages needing eating in the fridge…

    Been a while since I last tried it. Added some fennel seeds before frying off the sausage. So very yummy.

  240. Olga

    This is one of my go-to’s from SK! Would you think this freezes well before the bake? Looking to make something for my sister-in-law with a new baby. Just thinking in case they don’t want to bake/eat right away!

  241. Ariana

    Happy to report that a gluten free version of this is delicious, brown rice noodles (we used broken up lasagna style), and corn starch in place of flour.

  242. Ashley

    One of my favorite dishes of all time. I make it all the time. Just back here to refresh my memory. Well worth the oven time. I also don’t like it too saucy so I make it as directed. Yummers.

  243. Robert fenerty

    I made this; delicious. Made my red sauce wife happy. Used hot Italian sausage and “Banza” chickpea pasta (rotini.) Cooked pasta for three minutes, then rabe for three minutes. Let’s make that 4 / 2 next time. Mozza squares were roughly 1/4″, bit too small to notice.

  244. Annie

    This remains a family favorite. We make it more often than is probably healthy. We sub pumpkin spice for the nutmeg, use turkey or chicken sweet Italian sausage and have tried every kind of broccoli in it … They all work but raab/rabe is definitely best. Thanks!

  245. Amy K.

    I made this a second time today and it was great – I used turkey sausage, large shells, coupled with your ingredients. The only bummer was that my 14 year old son found the rabe a little bitter so next time I may make it with broccoli or broccolini. I’ve worked with broccoli rabe several times–mostly in East Asian cooking–and I quite like the bitterness, but I get that it might not have universal appeal. I digress – awesome recipe!!

  246. Lindsay

    This is comfort food in our house – have been making it for years and it never ever disappoints. But really, this site never does ;)
    It’s my favorite thing to drop off to anyone in need of a meal and they ask for the recipe every. single. time.
    I can rarely / never find rabe where I live in Canada – but regular broccoli broken down into baby florets works great. The bechamel amount is perfect, the little mozza cubes / cheese bombs are genius & my preference is to use little shells for the pasta shape. For a little extra heat we like to add red pepper flakes sometimes. Will be a forever fave.

  247. Darlene

    I love broccoli rabe, but the family I’m making this for (Mom is laid up with a broken leg) prefers broccoli. How many heads of broccoli should I use in place of “a bundle” of broccoli rabe?

      1. annie

        Deb we’ve had to sub broccoli many times and it’s not quite as good but still delicious! I have usually used a full head and just chopped it up more so the pieces are no bigger or thicker than 3/4″ or so (don’t usually include much of the stem)

    1. Katy

      I used one largeish head, but left out the stalk. Unless you’re scaling up the bechamel I think more than that would be too much for the sauce.

  248. Katy

    This was great. I didn’t increase the bechamel and got what I wanted, a nice sticky mound of pasta and broccoli held together by creamy sausage. I used wholemeal pasta and I was too hungry to stir the bechamel for 10 minutes but it was still fabulous.

  249. A ne

    This was delicious it’s my third recipe from you and your new cookbook
    My husband loved the turkey meatloaf
    Will cook lots more

  250. Beth H

    I made this for the first time and WOW I can’t believe how good it turned out. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I did use broccoli instead of broccoli rabe and I also didn’t have any mozzarella so I combined some sharp cheddar and parmesan. I thought maybe these changes might affect the end result but regardless the outcome was much more than the sum of its parts.

  251. Debbie T-D

    Hi Deb – this looks perfect. I’m making it today. Wondering if there’s any reason I can’t put it together in the morning, refrigerate and then just cook at dinner time.

  252. Autumn Quinn

    This is one of my favorite recipes, but I made it with a twist today that I wanted to share! I always make multiple batches of the slow roasted tomatoes in the summer to keep in the freezer and today I got the idea to add in about 2 cups of the defrosted tomatoes to this recipe. What a lovely taste for the middle of February – yum! This is the tomato recipe:

  253. Diane

    Made this tonight. Used broccoli, slightly over a pound, as no broccoli rabe was to be had. Used 13.1 oz package of pasta (the one recommended), as that is what I had, but seemed ok to offset what seemed to be more broccoli than it should have been. The bechamel…adding garlic made such a great sauce!. I know I’ll make this again, and most likely will not be the same, but I think it will be totally fine. I can’t imagine how this could not turn out great.

  254. Joan

    I made this tonight for a friend who just lost her husband. My husband tried it for taste and he loved it! Will abandon his beloved chicken wings to eat this tonight instead. I thought it looked to dry so,we added some additional milk and also added more broccoli. delicious weekend dish!

  255. Suze Clark

    Hi Deb, made this for dinner tonight with broccoli rabe from our CSA, mild Italian sausage from Aldi which is very lean and packed with flavor. The only modification I made was…..1/2# of small shell paste. It was fabulous! Thanks so much!