Sausage Rigatoni with Peppers and Artichokes

Me and pasta go way back. Back to when I happily devoured helpings of it from a can. I think of those days during my very early years on this earth and cringe at the memories of shoveling forkful after forkful of what I really shouldn’t even call pasta onto my then-naive tastebuds.

A lot has changed over the last two and a half decades, specifically the bond between pasta and I to the point of almost making my husband jealous. There are sounds and faces made whenever I encounter a new pasta dish — sounds and faces that should never be made outside the comfort of one’s own abode. But I can’t help myself. The combination of meat and carbs always seems to get the best of me, which is one of the inspirations for this dish.

I’m a big pork lover, as is so much of America (me and bacon are besties). In this recipe, hearty rigatoni manages to hold its ground against the big flavors of the sweet Italian sausage used. All of that is balanced out by an array of bright flavors injected by a medley of peppers, veggies and fresh parsley.

This dish is one I recommend to make when you’ve got a few friends coming over with a couple bottles of wine and nothing other than binge-watching something great on television on the night’s agenda.

Sausage Rigatoni with
Peppers and Artichokes

(recipe serving size – 3-4 depending on how hungry you are 😄)

For the pasta:

8 oz rigatoni

1 tb kosher salt

2 tbs olive oil

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the salt, olive oil and rigatoni. Stir immediately to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until al dente, following the instructions on the pasta box.

Reserve 1.5 cups of pasta water before draining the rest of the pasta. Once drained, return pasta to the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to keep the pasta from sticking if the pasta is completed before the rest of the dish comes together.

For the sausage:

8 oz sweet sausage, ground

1 medium onion, diced

1 tb olive oil

1 tb salted butter

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 clove garlic, chopped

Sauté the onion in olive oil and butter for 5 minutes over medium to medium-high heat. Add sausage, garlic, oregano and pepper. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until sausage is cooked through. While the sausage is cooking, be sure to break the pork up with a spoon, creating small chunks, and stir occasionally to brown on all sides.

Scrape sausage and onions into a bowl. Set bowl aside and return the pan to the heat.

For the peppers and artichokes:

14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, quartered, drained and patted dry

1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced

1 tb butter

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tb chopped parsley

Add butter, peppers, artichokes, oregano, salt and pepper to the pan. Sauté for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage and onion mixture along with the parsley to the pan. Sauté all together for 1-2 minutes.

Bringing it all together:

Cooked pasta

1 cup of reserved pasta water

1 cup grated parmesan cheese plus 1 tb for garnish

1 tb chopped parsley for garnish

Add the cooked pasta to the hot pan of sausage, peppers, onions and artichokes along with 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and 1 cup of grated parmesan. Simmer vibrantly for 1-2 minutes, tossing the pasta with the rest of the ingredients to ensure the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Transfer to a serving dish. Top with the parsley and remaining parmesan. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Creative liberties:

You will find many of my recipes are and will be broken down into components. The reason behind that is with almost every component, there are an array of options to be explored.

  • For a simple but decadent rigatoni dish, add crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano and fresh garlic to the water as the noodles boil. Complete the pasta step, but instead of moving forward, add the parmesan that is used later in the dish along with some fresh parsley or basil (or both!) and some of the reserved pasta water. The result will be a creamy bowl of noodles packed with lots of flavor.
  • If you are looking for an interesting topping for almost any protein, preparing the artichokes and peppers as per the recipe above will yield a healthy and flavorful addition to a number of other dishes. I love butter, but in this case, there is no harm in substituting the butter for olive oil. Either way, this medley will taste great with grilled chicken, any white fish or even as a brighter filling for steak tacos. The possibilities are endless!

 

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