Penne with Sausage, Broccoli, Ricotta, and Toasted Bread Crumbs

The textures of this Sicilian pasta are wonderful: creamy ricotta, chewy sausage, tender broccoli, and the crunch of toasted bread crumbs. It also is a complete meal with meat protein, greens, dairy, and double starch (pasta and bread).


  • Salt
  • 1 large head broccoli cut into florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound penne, rigatoni or shells
  • â…“ cup mild olive oil
  • ¾ pound fennel-garlic sausage mixture (see note)
  • 2 cups diced plum tomatoes (you may use part tomato sauce)
  • ¾ cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup Toasted Bread Crumbs



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook until tender but still firm. 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and refresh in cold water. Set aside. Return the water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Crumble the sausage (or you may shape it into small balls, if you like) into the pan and brown. Reduce heat, add the tomatoes, and cook until warmed through. Then add the broccoli and the ricotta and cook until the cheese is creamy, but still in small pieces. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and toss quickly with the sauce to combine. Divide among 4 warmed pasta bowls and top each bowl with a generous handful of toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.