This month has been one busy blur. Between football games, house projects and two sick kiddos, it’s been pretty hectic. This week I’m slowly getting back to a normal routine and it feels good. But even when things get a bit crazy around here, one thing I rarely compromise is dinner time. Even if all we have is a simple meal to eat, we always sit down together.
During this busy time of year, it’s no secret that pasta is a favorite dinner choice, especially when cooking for a crowd. In fact, I know my kids would gladly eat pasta everyday if I allowed it. I love how easily pasta dishes can be put together, and that you don’t have to be a culinary expert to cook meals your family will love.
Today I’m sharing a delicious pasta dish that we enjoyed this past week and was created by Victor Rallo Jr. host of PBS’s “Eat Drink Italy”. One of the key ingredients in this meal is Italian sausage. I find that adding Italian sausage makes great, more authentic Italian dishes. Sausage takes basic pasta dishes up a notch over ground beef or turkey because it adds flavor with all of the spices and seasonings already mixed in the sausage. For this dish, I used Johnsonville sausage which is made the Johnsonville Way – from a team dedicated to creating the best sausage in America with choice cuts of meat and a variety of flavors and spices mixed in. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!
Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
1 package (12 oz) Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage
1 package (1 lb) rigatoni
1 head of broccoli rabe
1 large tomato, diced
6 cloves of peeled garlic, crushed
4 ounces olive oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Optional – 1 can (14.5 oz) roasted diced tomatoes
1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Drop in pasta and cook according to package until al dente. Drain and set pasta aside, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat. Cook Italian sausage in the pan for 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside on paper towel-lined dish.
3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in the pot used for the pasta. Cut florets off broccoli rabe head drop into boiling water for 1-2 minutes with 2 tbsp salt. Transfer florets to bowl of ice water and once ice melts, drain and set aside.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in sauté pan until hot. Add the crushed garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown then add chili flakes, sausage, broccoli rabe and tomatoes. Sauté and toss for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add pasta to the pan with the parmesan cheese, half of reserved pasta water, salt and pepper. Toss for 1-2 minutes until ingredients are mixed well. I also added a can of roasted diced tomatoes to add more flavor and texture.