Many years ago, my mom gave me this cookbook for Christmas, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. I love pasta. I could probably eat it every day, without getting tired of it. Not everyone in my household feels this way (in fact, I suspect I’m the only one), so I limit our pasta dinners to once or twice a week.
When I decided to make Penne with Sausage this week, Pasta Fresca was the first cookbook I pulled from the shelf. It didn’t disappoint, though they chose thin rigatoni rather than penne for their sausage sauce.
Gnocchetti Rigati con Salsicce
aka, Thin Rigatoni with Sausage Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 thick slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
4 sweet Italian sausages
1 28-ounce can imported Italian tomatoes
Pinch of red chile pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for table use
Small handful chopped Italian parsley
1 pound imported gnocchetti rigati
In a medium skillet, gently cook the onion and garlic in the extra-virgin olive oil until the onion begins to wilt. Remove the sausage meat from the casings and crumble into the skillet. And the pancetta and cook until no trace of pink remains in the sausage and the pancetta has rendered its fat. Add the tomatoes, lifting them out of the can and crushing them with your fingers as you transfer them to the skillet. Add all the juice from the tomatoes. Add the red chile pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook the sauce over medium heat for at least 1/2 hour, adding a bit of water if the sauce begins to thicken too much. When the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon and loses its watery quality, add 2 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese and stir. Cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a heated serving dish. Add the hot sauce and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese over the finished pasta. Top with chopped parsley. Serve immediately, passing additional grated cheese.
Verdict? Really pretty yummy, but too salty. I’ll make it again, but next time, I’ll leave out the pancetta. I lightened it up a bit by using turkey sausage, and I used Parmesan cheese rather than Romano.