Serves a Crowd

Rigatoni with Sausage, Peas and Fresh Ricotta

March 15, 2011
Author Notes

I love the combination of hot tomato sauce + cold ricotta, could very happily spoon it up all day long....and as far as I am concerned nearly anything benefits from sausage.

No bells and whistles here, great tomatoes..fortified with a bit of garlic, some red pepper flakes and a bit of fennel....roast sweet (or hot) sausage (with fennel seeds), cool creamy hand made ricotta ( I get mine at Claudios, on 9th street, in the Italian market, they make it fresh every day) a few baby peas of pop and color a shave or two of ricotta salata in lieu of parm and there you have it...this is easy enough for a weekday (esp if you make the sauce ahead of time) and just perfect for a lazy Sunday, a big pot of sauce bubbling away as you finish the paper, ready to transition from sips of coffee to sips of wine. I usually do a riff on a Caesar or a Tri-colore salad to go with this and have a loaf of Italian bread on hand....sorbetto is the best sweet note to end on (esp if you live in Philly and have access to Capigiro.)or some fresh fruit with biscotto

You'll have extra sauce leftover, which freezes well or will be amazing on a eggplant sandwich...spruced up with a bit of fresh ricotta later in the week. - Aliwaks —Aliwaks

Test Kitchen Notes

Often, the best way to let fresh ingredients shine is not to do too much to them. In this dish, Aliwaks uses fresh ricotta and ricotta salata, unadulterated, to add a final flourish to a hearty pasta without (according to her) "bells and whistles." Of course, there's the piquant tomato sauce, laced with garlic and fennel, that simmers gently for two hours. And then there's her addition of savory pork sausage and green peas to give texture and color. And then there's the crowning glory: the ricotta itself, mellow and milky, dolloped on top of the pasta so that it eases the sting of the red pepper flakes; it gently works its way into the sauce, rendering it creamier and creamier as you devour it. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 6
  • 2 large cans whole San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP or is it DOC I can't remember)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf (pref fresh)
  • 1 cup diced fresh fennel (reserve the fronds for garnish)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 pound sweet or hot (or both) Italian sausage with fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup defrosted petit pois
  • 1 pound rigatoni (large ridges)
  • 1 pint fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 pound ricotta salata
In This Recipe
  1. Run the tomatoes through a food mill and discard the peels and seeds. (You can puree them in a blender or food processor if you don't have a mill.)
  2. Heat the olive oil gently in a large heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Add the bay leaf, fennel, garlic and red pepper flakes (for a milder sauce, you can add these at the end). Season with salt and pepper and saute until the fennel is soft and ever so slightly brown at the edges.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stir, and lower the heat to low. Cook gently, stirring every so often, for 2 hours.
  4. If you have a grill or grill pan, grill the sausages whole, then slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Alternatively, you can rub them with a bit of olive oil and roast in the oven on a sheet tray at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes, and then slice into rounds.
  5. When the sauce is reduced, cook the pasta according to the package directions (but probably you should add the pasta to rapidly boiling, highly salted water; then once it comes back up to a boil, cook for 8 to 10 minutes). Retain 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
  6. Pour two-thirds of the sauce into a large saute pan, add the sausage and heat through over medium heat.
  7. Add the warm pasta to the sauce, plus about 1/2 cup of pasta water (more if you think you need it). Saute, turning with tongs and shaking the pan until the sauce has been absorbed into the pasta. Add the peas at the last minute.
  8. Serve with a HEAPING dollop of cold ricotta cheese and shavings of ricotta salata. Garnish with fennel fronds.

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