Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rigatoni, Sweet Italian Sausage, & Peppers

Prepared January 20, 2010.
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, bulk or removed from links
2 T olive oil
2 T tomato paste 

1 t fennel seed
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1 c sweet red peppers, cut into large irregular pieces
1 c sweet green peppers, cut into large irregular pieces 

1 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 T finely minced garlic
3/4 c red table wine
26 oz container prepared marinara sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
about 1/2 c pasta water
2 t salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c fresh basil, torn into pieces
1 or 2 lb dry rigatoni, depending on desired yield
Heat olive oil in a heavy 6-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cut or tear the sausage meat into bite-size pieces and fry in the oil. When nicely browned, clear a spot, add a bit of oil, then toast the herbs and tomato paste for a minute and then add the peppers. As they begin to color, add the leeks and onions. After a minute or two, clear a spot and add the garlic. After 30 seconds, mix into the vegetables. Continue frying until they begin to soften. Add the wine, and scrape up the fond. When reduced by half, add the tomatoes and marinara sauce. Fast simmer covered at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, and basil when done. Boil the rigatoni in plenty of salted water until al dente. Mix the drained pasta with about the sauce adding pasta water as necessary. Alternatively, cook only 1 pound of pasta, and reserve half the sauce for later use. Simmer for a few minutes to finish cooking the pasta. Drizzle on some nice olive oil. Pass grated Parmesan cheese. Serves a crowd.