Rigatoni Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy weeknight meal, but impressive enough for a special occasion as well. This healthier pasta dish includes broccoli florets and a lean turkey sausage, with a simple sauce made with freshly grated parmesan. Make this one for your family soon!
I’ve decided that SueBee Homemaker is definitely lacking pasta recipes, so I’m remedying that STAT. This pasta is one I’ve made several times, but finally perfected the process. The key is to get the parmesan cheese to melt into a smooth sauce, and while this may not be 100% every time, I think it works really well. Just remember to save some of that salty pasta water. If you do that and grate your own parmesan chunk, you will be much happier with the result. I promise!
Let’s get cooking this amazing rigatoni pasta!
Ingredients needed for Rigatoni Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli:
You can keep most of these ingredients stocked in your pantry, and then pick up the fresh items at the last minute.
- Rigatoni Pasta – I love this pasta shape with this recipe, but you could use something else as well.
- Turkey Sausage – Use whatever flavor you like best. I used a spicy sausage which was excellent.
- Broccoli – You will need a good portion of two heads of broccoli, but will cut off most of the stems.
- Butter plus Olive Oil – These two ingredients are the base to the easy sauce for this pasta.
- Garlic – The minced garlic adds so much flavor. I recommend using fresh garlic over the powdered version.
- Parmesan Cheese – Use freshly grated parmesan for best results. The fresh stuff actually melts! 😀
- Salt and Pepper – I always use kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You will need plenty of salt for boiling the pasta.
- Pasta Water – THIS is another very important part of this pasta recipe. Make sure you reserve some for the sauce!
- Red Pepper Flakes – An optional ingredient, but makes it so good.
How to make Rigatoni Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli:
This REALLY is the easiest pasta recipe. The important part is to reserve some pasta water and make sure you get the sauce as smooth as possible.
- PREP. Cut the broccoli into bite sized florets, trimming the stems off. Mince the garlic. Grate the cheese into a measuring cup.
- Brown the sausage. Remove the turkey sausage from the casings. Cook in a skillet over medium heat, until done. Strain in a colander, and set aside.
- Cook pasta. Fill a large stock pot about halfway with water. Bring to a boil, and add pasta, along with a good amount of salt. The salt is important to flavor the pasta AND the pasta water (that will be used later). Add the broccoli and bring it to a simmer (slow bubbles). Cook until al dente.
- RESERVE PASTA WATER. When straining the pasta and broccoli, reserve two cups of pasta water, by placing a bowl under a colander.
- Cook the sauce. Place the stock pot back on the stove, and add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Then add a cup of the reserved pasta water and slowly add the freshly grated parmesan cheese while whisking the entire time. Add some freshly ground black pepper, and whisk until the parmesan cheese is melted.
- Add the pasta back. Add the rigatoni pasta, broccoli, and turkey sausage back to the pot. Stir well, and add additional pasta water if needed to smooth. Test seasonings, and add some red pepper flakes (optional) and more salt and pepper, if needed.
What is al dente?
When you bite into the pasta, and your teeth feel some resistance, but the pasta is still tender, you’ve reached al dente.
Why use freshly grated parmesan cheese?
Freshly grated parmesan cheese ensures that the cheese will actually melt into a smooth sauce, if done correctly. Using the already grated cheese will most likely produce a clumpy sauce. And is that cheese actually REAL cheese? Hmmmm. (P.S. I still use it occasionally.) 😀
What to serve with this Rigatoni Pasta:
- Spinach Salad with Avocado and Goat Cheese – This is one of our go-to salad recipes.
- Chewy French Bread – I keep extra loaves in our freezer for meals like this.
- Peanut Butter Cup Cookies or Mini Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies – You can’t go wrong with either of these cookie recipes. More to choose from on the blog!
Try this pasta recipe next! Classic Lasagna Roll Ups
Please let know if you try this recipe. Be sure to comment and leave a review on the blog so I can see what you think. You can also like my Facebook Page, follow me on Pinterest, and catch me on Instagram.
Rigatoni Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- 1 pound turkey sausage - removed from casings
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese - or about 2 cups
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 2 cups reserved pasta water
- red pepper flakes - to serve
- extra freshly ground black pepper - to serve
- extra parmesan cheese - to serve
- PREP. Prepare broccoli by trimming the stems off, and cutting into bite sized pieces. Mince the garlic. Grate the cheese into a measuring cup.
- Remove the turkey sausage from the casings. Pan-fry in a skillet on the stove top until cooked through, breaking it apart as it cooks. Pour in a collander and drain the grease off.
- In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Pour the rigatoni pasta in the pot, along with a good amount of salt. (Salt flavors the pasta AND the pasta water - which will be used later.) Add the broccoli and wait for it to continue to boil. Reduce heat to medium, making sure the water is bubbling (but not too much). Cook until the pasta is al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and pour into a collander, making sure to reserve some of the pasta water. I usually set a bowl under the collander so I don't forget!
- Place the stock pot back on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil and butter, and stir until melted. Add the garlic, and stir for about a minute. Then add a cup of pasta water and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add some black pepper and then gradually add in some of the freshly grated parmesan cheese, whisking the entire time. Continue whisking until all of the parmesan cheese has been added.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and add the pasta, broccoli, and turkey sausage. Stir well to combine, and add more pasta water if needed to get everything nice and smooth. Test the seasonings. and add red pepper flakes, and more salt and pepper if needed.