Because I love Italian sausage, I always try to have some on hand so I can make simple pasta dishes like this one. The ragù gets flavor from the sausage, a little red wine, garlic and some fresh basil. And, if you make it a day ahead, it’s a perfect meal for entertaining because all you have to do is reheat the sauce and cook the pasta. The recipe says it makes 6 first-course servings so you’ll probably want to double the recipe if you’re serving it as a main dish. Serve with a big green salad and some crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious meal!
Penne in Country Ragù
-recipe from epicurious.com
What to drink: Sangiovese wines are a classic pairing with robust pasta dishes. Try the Cantina di Montalcino 1999 Poggio del Sasso, a good-value Super Tuscan.
Yield: Makes 6 first-course servings
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped canned whole Italian-style plum tomatoes
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
12 ounces penne pasta
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, garlic, and crushed red pepper; sauté until brown, breaking up with fork, about 6 minutes. Add carrots, onion, and celery; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup broth and wine; simmer uncovered until liquid is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Add basil; cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if liquid evaporates too quickly and stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Simmer uncovered until ragù thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, about 10 minutes longer. Season lightly with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Mix in ragù, 1/2 cup cheese, and 2 tablespoons oil. Add cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide pasta among plates. Serve, passing 1/2 cup cheese separately.