sweet Italian sausage (about 4 to 6 sausages depending on size), uncased
big pinch of kosher salt, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons, plus more as needed
large head of green cabbage, cored and cut in two pieces, then sliced into roughly 1 1/2-inch ribbons (this will yield about 5 to 6 cups)
conchiglie (small shell) dried pasta
freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Parmesan, Microplaned or very finely grated, divided in two (each will be about 1/2 cup packed)
In This Recipe
In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the uncased sausages and brown thoroughly, breaking up with a wooden spoon so they’re in small, half-teaspoon-sized pieces. Once deeply browned and just cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the browned meat, leaving behind the oil, and set aside (season it with the big pinch of salt as you do).
Add the chopped cabbage and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to the skillet. Turn the flame down to medium-low. If things are looking dry at this stage, add another splash of olive oil with the cabbage. Cook about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every so often, until cabbage is very tender, with a sweet and savory concentrated flavor, and browned in some spots.
While the cabbage is cooking, bring a big pot of well-salted water to a boil (figure about 1 tablespoon per quart), and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the box suggests, so it’s quite al dente. (It’ll cook more in the next steps.) Before draining, reserve 1 cup starchy cooking water.
When the cabbage is tender and browned, turn on broiler to preheat. Meanwhile, back on the stovetop, make a well in the center of the cabbage and add the nutmeg. Heat about 30 seconds, then add the heavy cream, 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, pepper, half the Parmesan, and stir until cheese is melted and cream has just barely come to a simmer. Use your spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the pasta and about 2/3 of the reserved sausage (keep the rest set aside), and toss. If you need to loosen up the sauce more, add another splash of pasta water and keep tossing.
Turn off the flame, and adjust seasoning to taste as needed. Top with the remainder of the browned sausage and Parmesan. Carefully, place under broiler. Watching closely, broil for about 2 minutes, until top is bubbly and browned.
Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.