(Cartwheel Pasta with Breakfast Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce)
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 35 minutes
When I told my sister Annie that I’d begun working on a new cookbook, she insisted that this time I had to include her all-time favorite pasta dish. Adapted from one of our most-loved Italian cookbooks, it is flavored with regular old breakfast sausages, tomatoes and cream. In typical non-Italian fashion, I significantly increased the amount of sauce in the recipe, which will probably horrify all the Italian home cooks out there. But I see pasta as a vehicle for sauce, not the other way around.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces frozen breakfast sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick (Note: do not defrost sausages before cutting them)
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon rinsed and dried fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
1 pound rotelle (cartwheel) or other shaped pasta
2/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly milled black pepper
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot; reduce the heat to medium, add the sausage, and saute, stirring occasionally, until it is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. (Don’t discard the fat released by the sausage.) Add the garlic, sage, and thyme; cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the cream to the sauce and simmer just until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, reserving 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir the pasta cooking liquid into the sauce and toss with the drained pasta. Top each portion with some of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.