Sausage & Rapini Pasta

2017-05-06
  • Servings : 4-6
  • Prep Time : 10m
  • Cook Time : 15m
  • Ready In : 25m

I love how quickly this pasta comes together. There is no actual sauce other than the juices given off from everything you’re cooking. The sausage cooks so quickly that dinner can be on the table in 15 minutes. I like to serve this with a simple side salad but because there are lots of veggies, meat and pasta in one dish and it’s basically a complete meal. The shells are great in this because they catch all the little bits of everything but fusilli (twirly pasta to my 3-year-old), rigatoni, or penne also work well. Let’s be honest: If it’s 5:00pm and you need to get dinner on the table and just realized all you have is a box of spaghetti then go for it, everyone will just be happy to have a home cooked meal. Chili flakes would be an amazing addition to this but because my kids, husband and I all eat the same meal for dinner I leave them out until after. If it was just the adults eating I would put them in when sautéing the garlic.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shell pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek*
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bunch of rapini, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
  • Garnish-grated parmigiano

*Some people are intimidated by leeks because they don’t really know what to do with them. They taste like a milder version of a green onion and are great in so many dishes. They tend to be dirty between the leaves so it is important to clean them properly. First, cut the tough dark green tops off to where it starts to turn a lighter green colour. Then, cut them in half length wise keeping the bottom part on so they don’t fall apart. Run lots of cold water through the layers and separate them a little to make sure the water cleans between the layers. Place in the cutting board flat side down and slice thinly width wise.

Method

Step 1

Cook pasta according to box, however, you want it to be a little more al dente then usual. The best way for pasta to soak up flavours and not have the sauce run off is to mix the pasta in to the sauce in a pan over heat and finish the cooking there. If you just dump sauce onto a bowl of pasta it doesn’t allow the flavours to infuse. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Step 2

In a large pan (I used a 12 inch pan with high sides) heat the oil over medium-high heat and add leeks. Stir and cook until wilted and slightly brown.

Step 3

Add garlic and cook until fragrant without burning, about 30 seconds.

Step 4

Add sausage in small pieces and breaking up further with a wooden spoon. Brown but do not over cook (there is still lots more time for them to cook fully but you want it to crisp a little and break up to give texture to the final dish).

Step 5

Add cherry tomatoes and let them cook down and release their juices. Since there is no ‘sauce’ the tomatoes and oil will act as the sauce so you want them to really break down (about 5-7 minutes).

Step 6

Add rapini and continue to toss so the rapini gets mixed in with everything and starts to wilt.

Step 7

Add the pasta in to the pan and toss to coat. If the pan is a little dry add some of the pasta water, starting with ¼ of a cup and add more as necessary. The pasta water has all of the starch that the pasta released while cooking. Adding it to the sauce will help everything combine and will add flavour and body that plain water won’t. It turns it from a bunch of vegetables in a pan with pasta into a sauce with vegetables and pasta.

Step 8

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Step 9

Place on a serving dish and grate parmigiano overtop just before serving.

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