Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Italian Sausages With Rigatoni - A Great Pasta Dish

Our youngest son, Tyler,  and his girlfriend came to dinner Sunday evening and I fixed a recipe that I have had since about 1973.  I found it in a magazine when our oldest daughter was just a baby and we had moved into our first house.  It is rigatoni with Italian sausages and it is so good I think I could eat it about every day. It's also easy to make and makes about 8-10 big servings.

The recipe came from an actress by the name of Olivia Hussey.  Anyone know who she is?  She was 15 years old when she starred in Romeo and Juliet in 1968 which was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and produced by Dino DeLaurentis (grandfather of Giada DeLaurentis).  Dan and I saw it at the theater when we were dating.  I know that was a long time ago, but it is still one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen to this day.  If you have never seen it, try to find it.  The cinematography is beautiful, the story is so moving and Olivia Hussey made the most beautiful Juliet ever.  She also must be one good cook, because I love this recipe.  Another bit of trivia, she was married to Dean Martin's son Dino of Dino, Desi, and Billy.  Dino was killed in a plane crash while they were married.  Anybody out there old enough to remember Dino, Desi and Billy?  They were a very popular musical trio back in the day. Yikes.  I am certainly showing my age here.

As for the recipe, it is really, really good and is another variation on a pasta dish when you have grown weary of the same old, same old.  Here is what you need.


1 pound Italian style sauge (sometimes I use sweet, sometimes hot, depends on my mood)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 large can tomatoes undrained (32 oz) (I used tomatoes I put in the freezer this summer - yum)
1 cup water
1 tsp dried organo leaves  (I also add 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried thyme)
a pinch of red pepper flakes optional
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese (or grated will do)

1 pound rigatoni pasta

Take casings off sausages and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Cook in a large pan (I use my dutch oven) over moderate heat stirring occasionally until browned.  Remove sausage and set aside.  Add onion, green pepper, and garlic to saucepan - cook until tender stirring occasionally to keep garlic from burning.  Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, water, spices, salt, and pepper.  Add cooked sausage.  Stir and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 1.5  hours stirring occasionally.


About 20 minutes before serving, add 2 tbsp salt to 6 quarts boiling water.  Gradually stir in rigatoni so that water continues to boil.  Cook about 20 minutes or just until al dente.  Drain thoroughly.  Serve sauce over rigatoni.

I add fresh grated parmesan cheese or you can use grated parmesan from a can if that is what you have.  The rigatoni is so perfect with this sauce because it is a fat noodle with lots of ridges in it to hold the sauce.  It is one of my favorite pastas to use because it has a nice "bite" to it.  Chewy and delicious.

This is one of my all time favorite recipes.  The sauce is just thin enough that it is excellent for dipping hot crusty bread into.  The bread soaks up all the flavorful juices and yum!  Makes my mouth water just writing about it.  Tyler ate about half a loaf of bread by dipping it in the sauce.  Yes, it is that good.  The Italian sausage gives it so much flavor.  It also makes great left overs.  I just pour the remaining sauce over the remaining rigatoni, stir it up to coat the pasta and store it in a covered bowl.  Stick in the microwave the next day and, boy howdy, you have another great meal.

Serve this with a green salad and your dinner is complete!  Your family will ask for this again.  Give it a try - and maybe serve it while watching the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet.  Just keep some kleenex handy.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.” Deepak Chopra

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So wonderful to find this reference to one of our all-time favorite recipes! We have been making this for at least 45 years and surprisingly have never seen a reference to it anywhere else.

    Interestingly, we work from a recipe on an old, yellowed magazine clipping- which is slightly different from yours. Differences?
    • No mention of removing sausage casings- we just cut into 1 inch slices
    • Our recipe uses 2- 6oz. cans of tomato paste instead of the sauce
    • Ours calls for 1- 16oz. tomatoes and a bay leaf

    Sounds like our sauce may be a bit thicker.

    We also brown the sausage in a sauté pan, which gets this really horrible deposit of char on the bottom- appears uncleanable! But we then transfer the cooked sausage to a stockpot for simmering, and cook the vegetables in the sauté pan, making sure to scrape up as much as possible of that yummy char. When the vegetables are transferred to the stockpot, the sauté pan is easily cleaned, and the char gives the sauce a wonderful smoky flavor. We once tried to brown the sausage on the grill. MUCH faster and little cleanup, but alas, no wonderful smoky flavor. So, no shortcuts now.

    Thanks for the memories!

    BTW- we plan to watch the movie very soon.