This is my favorite Sunday pasta dish. Dried pasta is such a convenient and versatile food, there are many ways to serve it. This idea comes from the many great Italian meals I have enjoyed in New York. Grana Padano is an Italian cow’s milk cheese from the northern region of Emilia-Romagna. I like its mellow flavor and the slight creaminess it adds to this pasta. You can substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you prefer.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 medium-ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into large dice
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 12 ounces dried rigatoni
- 1 bunch arugula, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped (1½ cups)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¾ cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
COOK THE SAUSAGE In a skillet large enough to hold all of the ingredients, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage meat and cook until lightly browned, stirring the meat to break up the lumps. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the sausage meat and cook until heated through, about 1 minute more.
COOK THE RIGATONI Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and plenty of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rigatoni is al dente—tender yet still firm. Drain the rigatoni and add it to the skillet with the sauce.
FINISH THE PASTA Add the arugula and basil and toss well. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.
WINE SUGGESTION: BARBERA, RENWOOD, 2002, AMADOR COUNTY, CALIFORNIA. A classic pasta-friendly red made from Barbera with aromas of plums, spicy cherries, and a tangy finish.