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.
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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.

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