Chef Barbara Lynch recently made rigatoni with spicy sausage for a dinner at Pasta Flyer in New York City. She used our hot Italian sausage. It was so good we asked for the recipe, which she agreed to share with us — and you — here.
Barbara Lynch learned a lot of what she knows about Italian cooking from her first trip to Italy. In her 20s, she went with her friend Sarah Jenkins to visit Sarah’s family at their home-away-from-home in Teverina (and cook for Sarah’s wedding!). A woman named Mita who helped maintain the property showed Barbara some of her family recipes including focaccia with chestnuts, gnocchi, her bolognese, and this pasta which includes both white beans and butter. These are still some of Barbara’s favorite recipes more than 30 years later, and always transport her back to Italy with their “taste of place.”
This recipe comes from Barbara Lynch’s cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This is an easy weeknight meal, or the sort of thing you can pull together last minute when friends stop by on a weekend, since it relies primarily on pantry staples: canned beans, canned tomatoes, and dry pasta. For the best flavor, she urges people to use a good quality sausage and Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you want a more mellow dish, use sweet Italian sausage in place of the spicy and lessen the amount of crushed red pepper.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes or 1 similar-sized box of chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried rigatoni (can be whole grain, up to you)
- 1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is fragrant and light golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and spicy sausage and cook, breaking up the spicy sausage with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Next, add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, their juices, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens slightly and develops flavor, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the rigatoni to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat it. Next, add the beans, Parmesan, basil, and butter and stir gently. Cook until the beans are heated through, about 3 minutes. Taste and add more crushed red pepper flakes, if you like. If the pasta looks dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Divide the pasta among six large bowls and top with additional cheese and basil. Serve immediately.
You can make the spicy sausage sauce an hour or so ahead and keep it warm on the stove, or make it a day or two ahead, refrigerate it, covered, and reheat it gently before adding the pasta and beans.