Penne with Sausage, Ricotta, and Greens
Adapted from Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, by Lidia Bastianich
Here’s yet another dish from my Lidia cookbook. I love this book! The dish in the book is called Shepard’s Rigatoni, and uses rigatoni noodles, but I had penne so just used what I had on hand. This recipe is great because it mainly uses ingredients that keep for a while in the refrigerator and pantry– sausage, ricotta, and pasta. I added in the dark greens. I felt it needed more green than just the basil, but you can definitely leave the dark greens out. This is a rich pasta dish, and super easy. Great for a quick weeknight meal.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 lb. short cut tube pasta, such penne or rigatoni
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 lb. rainbow chard or kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves torn
2 cups, about a 15 ounce container, fresh whole milk ricotta
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving if desired
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
Sea salt, to taste
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add a small handful of salt when the water comes to a boil and put the pasta in the water. Cook the pasta according to the package direction.
While the water is coming up to a boil break the sausage meat up into small pieces. Put the ¼ cup olive oil into a large skillet (large enough to hold the cooked pasta too) and heat over medium heat. Add in the ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Now add the sausage pieces to the pan, dispersing evenly so they don’t all form back into one big clump. Cook the sausage, stirring occasionally until cooked through. This will take about 10 minutes.
Add in the torn chard or kale leaves to the skillet; add a splash of water from the pasta pot, and cover. Let the greens cook for about 5-10 minutes until tender, but still bright in color.
When the pasta is cooked, drain the water, reserving some to add to the sauce if necessary, and add the pasta to the sausage and greens in the skillet. Toss to coat the pasta with the sausage.
Turn the heat off and add in 2 cups of ricotta cheese to the pasta and ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Stir to combine. If necessary add a bit of pasta water to thin out the pasta. I usually do this when I package up the leftovers.
Serve the pasta with additional freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top!