The star of the show in this sausage pasta bake is the greens, which are actually purples: radicchio and endive.
Chicories are bitter lettuces that are often the unsung heroes of the salad world. Radicchio and treviso add a gorgeous pop of purple color to your plate, while curly escarole and frisee offer plenty of nooks and crannies for your dressing to cling to. I have a salad in my book that is an ode to these lettuces, but my favorite part about them is how delicious they are cooked!
Especially since many people with digestive issues have trouble with raw salads, I love finding new ways to honor these ingredients in cooked dishes like this sausage pasta bake.
It is based on an old Italian recipe that I was obsessed with in my early twenties: rigatoni Treviso. If you’re an OG fan from my Big Girls, Small Kitchen days you might even recognize the recipe! The ingredients are simple: just onion, sausage, Treviso (which is a type of radicchio) and heavy cream. This type of combination is healthy hedonism incarnate. But for this version, I took it a step further to make it gluten-free, low-fodmap optional and mostly dairy-free (none of which were considerations in my early twenties!).
Since there are so few ingredients, I thought the dish would work well as a baked pasta with the added texture of crisped noodles and toasted breadcrumbs. I swapped coconut cream for the heavy cream and onion for leek. But if you’re open to a small (low FODMAP) quantity of shredded cheese on top, that of course tips the hedonism scales a little more.
All low FODMAP folks just need to omit the leek or swap it for half a diced fennel bulb, and use homemade sausage. There’s a recipe in my book SIBO Made Simple for this. It’s really easy.
Though sausage is in the title, you can easily make this vegetarian or vegan. I will say though that the flavor combination of slightly bitter, wilted greens and salty, umami rich deli meats (I shall throw bacon, prosciutto and salami in as options, too)—doesn’t get more classic.
With health and hedonism,
Bitter Greens & Sausage Pasta Bake
- 12 ounces gluten-free shells penne or fusilli
- ½ pound hot Italian sausage casing removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 leek halved and thinly sliced
- 1 large head radicchio or Treviso thinly sliced
- 1 head endive thinly sliced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup coconut cream see note
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Sea salt
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella optional
- 1/3 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs or panko
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente (about 8 minutes, versus the 12 my box called for). Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage, breaking it apart with your spatula into 1-inch chunks. When golden brown all over, remove to a plate.
Add the leeks to the pan, along with the olive oil or butter. Sauté over medium heat until translucent, but not browning, 5 minutes. Add the radicchio and endive to the pan. Continue sautéing until the greens are wilted and caramelized but still partially crunchy, 5 more minutes.
Off the heat add the wine and coconut cream to the pan and stir around until it forms a creamy sauce. Mix in the stock and lemon juice, and season with ½ teaspoon salt. Carefully fold in the pasta and reserved sausage until everything is well combined.
Arrange in an even layer in the skillet, or transfer to a casserole dish. Top with the cheese, if using, and breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until browned on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve!
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