This dish is excellent baked in individual gratin dishes. Shorten the baking time by 10-15 minutes, depending on size and depth of dish.
1 lb. dried pasta shapes such as penne rigate, ziti, or rigatoni, or ruffled shapes such as radiatore
1-1/4 lb. hot Italian sausage, meat removed from the casings
3 tbsp good olive oil, plus more for greasing dish
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bottle or can puréed tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream (35%)
1 lb. fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, cut into 1/2" cubes
8 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Oil a large shallow baking dish, preferably ceramic or glass; set aside.
Step 2: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions, draining pasta 1 minute before it is al dente. Do not rinse.
Step 3: Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until cooked through and browned. Remove meat from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Set aside.
Step 4: Drain excess fat from skillet and add olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook over medium heat until garlic begins to brown. Remove garlic and discard. Add tomato purée to the oil, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
Step 5: Transfer tomato sauce to a large mixing bowl. Add cream, stirring to blend. Add hot drained pasta, cooked sausage meat, mozzarella, and all but 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano. Stir mixture gently but thoroughly to coat everything well.
Step 6: Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish or six individual gratin dishes. Scatter breadcrumbs and remaining Parmigiano over top. Bake in the centre of oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling vigorously and top is browned. Cool 5 minutes before serving.