(posted by Ashley H.)
This recipe was my first Smitten Kitchen attempt because, well, how could you not? I think she had me at baked pasta. (This recipe was recently posted on her blog.)
I hesitate to even admit this but this recipe was a huge FAIL for me. So sad as I was so excited to try it. I was unfamiliar with broccoli rabe and it was far too bitter for both me and my husband. So much so that we tried really hard to suffer through the bitterness but then gave up and ended up tossing the entire casserole into the garbage. Again, so sad. In Deb’s defense, she did warn of broccoli rabe bitterness in her notes. . .I just had no idea it would taste so inedible to me.
A big mistake I made was accidently buying rice pasta and not realizing it until I got home. I looked for her recommended pasta at Whole Foods but couldn’t find it so grabbed this bag because it looked like it had a similar shape to the one she used in her pictures. Very important note: rice pasta (gluten-free) does not hold up well in a baked pasta recipe. Oops.
Set your sausage aside and begin your béchamel. This was my very first béchamel and it wasn’t as daunting as I had always assumed it would be. It does require about fifteen minutes of constant stirring though.
At the end everything gets combined: pasta, broccoli rabe, sausage, béchamel. . .all in one big pot. Then, as if that wasn’t enough goodness in one bowl, in goes the cubed mozzarella and grated pecorino romano cheeses.
Surprisingly enough, I would actually attempt to make this again. Clearly I would buy the correct kind of pasta next time! And I would either try broccolini or even just straight up broccoli.