Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Spinach

I am the cliche.  An Italian-American who loves pasta.  I have to tell you, it's an amazing cliche to be a part of.

Growing up, Sunday gravy with meatballs, sausage and braciole was something you could always count on.  My breakfasts on Sunday consisted of a fried meatball, eggs and a slice of crusty Italian bread.  It was awesome.  Wouldn't change it for the world.

Much to my grandmother's dismay, I don't always make Sunday gravy.  For one, I don't have the time.  Sundays are usually the only day I have to get to church, do my running around, catch up on laundry, cleaning. etc. etc.  It is also usually my only day to sleep past 6am.  So, waking up on my only day off to fry meatballs, as amazing as they are, is not always my cup of tea.

Also, Sunday was really the only day we had pasta believe it or not.  We had things like chicken cutlets, escarole and Italian style beef stew during the week.  I don't work like that.  I can eat pasta anytime, and it doesn't have to wait for Sunday gravy.

I also love the freshness of a light tomato basil based marinara.  It's so delicious and you can just about throw anything in it, and it is still awesome.  From ceci beans to asparagus.  From pork to beef.  Its so versatile!!

Here is one of my weeknight favorites.  Quick, easy and amazingly scrumptious.


Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Ingredients:

1 lb of loose hot or sweet Italian sausage
1.tsp dried pepper flakes (optional)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, torn 
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb rigatoni
salt and pepper, q.b.

 Method:

Fill a pasta pot with cold water and place on high heat with a lid on.  

In a large 12-14 inch skillet, heat olive oil and toast pepper flakes.  Add your diced onion and garlic and sautee over medium heat until translucent.  

While onion and garlic mixture is sauteing, place your can of whole tomatoes in a bowl and crush with your hands to desired consistency.  (I enjoy mine rather chunky).

Add loose sausage to onion and garlic mixture and cook over medium high heat until sausage is browned.  

Dump the tomatoes into the sausage mixture and reduce heat to medium.  

Add fresh basil and season with salt and pepper.  

By this time your pasta water, should have reached a rolling boil.  Add a generous amount of salt to the water, and dump your rigatoni in, stirring for the fist minute to avoid clumping.  

At this point, you want to add your fresh spinach to the sauce and cook down gently.  

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer

When rigatoni is JUST al dente (has a little bite to it), drain the pasta and place into the skillet with your sauce.  Crank heat up to high and sautee until pasta becomes completely al dente.  Turn heat off, allow to stand for 2 minutes and serve.  Top with freshly grated cheese and some more fresh basil if desired.  

To contact me, hire me, book me, appearances or for other recipes, you can find me at any of these places. As always, get your asses in the kitchen!!

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