Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rigatoni alla Toscanini

    As I've mentioned before, Italians are pretty frugal.  If at all possible, nothing goes to waste.  Well, I recently found myself with some fresh ricotta in the fridge, left over from a recent trip to an Italian market.  I'd already used some of it to bake an orange ricotta cheesecake but still had a little bit left.
    After looking over my shelves of cookbooks, I decided to pull out one that the hubby had brought home for me quite awhile back and see what I could find.  The cookbook is called La Cucina di Andrea'sIt has recipes from a well-known Northern Italian restaurant in New Orleans.  I pretty quickly found a pasta dish that happened to use the same amount of ricotta that I had left, so.....that would be dinner.  The recipe actually used penne, but rigatoni was in my cupboard so that's what I used.  A little side note.....apparently this dish was named after the famous Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini.  This is some rich, delicious tasting pasta, whoever it's named after.

Rigatoni alla Toscanini   (serves 4-6)

4 cups chopped Italian sausage (best done while partially frozen)
4 tsp. olive oil
2 tblsp. chopped onions
2 tsp. chopped garlic
4 tsp. tomato paste
2/3 cup dry red wine
2 (28 oz.) cans Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
16 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 pound rigatoni, cooked al dente
Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat and saute the sausage.

When the sausage is lightly browned, lower the heat to medium and stir in the onions and garlic.  Saute until very light golden. 

FYI....I used a garlic and roasted red pepper Italian sausage, so the red flecks aren't something I forgot to tell you about....they're just part of the sausage.

Add the tomato paste and red wine.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until almost dry.

Add the tomatoes and juice and reduce the sauce by about one-third.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour half of the sauce into a large skillet with the cooked pasta.  (See how much the sauce has thickened?)  Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano, and basil, and heat through.

Serve the pasta with the chopped parsley, more Parmigiano, and the rest of the sauce to pass.  Add a salad and you're all set.

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