Tender Cavatappi layered with a hearty mushroom and Italian sausage ragu baked in crushed tomatoes and layered with mozzarella and grated parmesan,.
Cavatappi is a short S-shaped pasta tube that looks similar to a small corkscrew. Its slender, spiral shape makes it great for serving with hearty sauce because the ragu gets trapped between the coils.
For my ragu I use a classic Italian sausage, a ton of mushrooms and fresh vegetables like carrots, onions, garlic simmered in crushed tomatoes i like to season it with thyme, oregano , rosemary and bay leaves. A slow simmered ragu is also a great place to add in tougher veggies like kale and chard to add some more earthy flavor and a bump of veggies.
White cheese is a go to for baked pasta with red sauce, Choose your favorite combinations. For this recipe I used mozzarella, and parmesan, Alternative cheeses include ricotta, provolone, or asiago.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST Baked Cavatappi
Building the sauce
building the sauce is important to the overall flavor of the dish. start off by browning the meat, season the meat directly at this time since its impossible to add flavor directly to the meat once the tomatoes are poured.
from there don t drain the meat unless you plan on not adding any veggies to the sauce. add in the vegetables so that they can pick up the rendered fat from the pork. do not cover the pot In the beginning stages you want to give the steam room to escape so that the moisture reduces so that you can build a thicker more concentrated sauce.
add in the wine to the meat and veggies then let it reduce in half before adding in the tomato sauce to avoid a overly boozy sauce. once it’s times to add the crushed tomatoes, then you can heavily season, cover and simmer the sauce.
building the baked pasta
building the pasta is important to the overall structure of the bake. once the sauce and pasta is cooked i like to combine them together so the sauce has a chance to get in the pasta. similarly to lining a baked cake with sugar to keep it from sticking, i often opt for rubbing my baking pan with softened butter and finely grated parmesan, not only does it keep the pasta from sticking but it makes an amazing crust for the entire base and outer edge of the pasta. adding the cheese in layers helps thicken the sauce and firm up the structure once the pasta is set.
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