It’s the middle of winter, and this is just the kind of filling dish that will satisfy all your cravings on a cold winter night. Hearty Italian sausage and tomatoes make up a very simple ragu. Rigatoni noodles soak up the delicious sauce. And a simple herb ricotta provides a refreshing contrast to the pasta.
Rigatoni tubes make a great match for this chunky sauce. The broken up sausage and tomato is easily picked up in the large centers of the tubes, and the outside will nicely soak up the sauce’s flavor.
You can enjoy it bite by bite, as the cool herb riccotta contrasts the tomato. Or you can stir it in throughout the dish, and get some herbs and creamy goodness in every bite.
It’s just a few ingredients, easy to make, and amazingly good. To get started, you’ll need some fresh basil and parsley. Or you can mix it up however you like with other herbs of choice. You could use some oregano, thyme, chives, or rosemary.
A can or box of chopped tomatoes, some fresh Italian sausage, and some good extra-virgin olive oil. And just a cup or so of good quality ricotta cheese and you are ready to go.
Whenever you prepare pasta, always take it out just a minute or so before it’s fully cooked to your liking. Drain well, and if you are using a really thick sauce like a pesto that could do with a little thinning out, be sure to hold back about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. This starchy water will help thin the sauce just a little bit while it clings to the noodles.
Then add a little bit of your sauce to the hot pasta and the remaining water, and cook over low heat for the last minute or two until it’s done. Done this way, your pasta will absorb some of the sauce and its flavors during these last few minutes of cooking.
- 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
- 1 box rigatoni noodles
- 1 box or can good quality chopped Italian tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped finely
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped finely
- 1 cup good-quality ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese for grating
In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage until browned, breaking it up with the spatula as it cooks.
Add chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and allow to simmer on low heat 20 to 30 minutes. You should have a very thick sauce with lots of sausage in it.
Meanwhile, add fresh chopped herbs to the ricotta cheese, season with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine.
Cook rigatoni until just short of being done. Drain cooking liquid through a colander, keeping about 1/4 cup of cooking water in with pasta.
Reduce heat to low, add extra virgin olive oil, and a large spoonful of sauce to pasta, and continue cooking until done.
Serve rigatoni, with sauce on top, and a spoonful of the herb ricotta to top it off.
If desired, grate fresh parmesan on top.