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Cavatappi with Sausage and Tomato

Cavatappi with Sausage and Tomato
The wide grooves of cavatappi, a corkscrew-shaped pasta, trap the bits of sausage in this creamy sauce. If you can't find a sausage flavored with fennel, add 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, preferably lightly crushed in a spice grinder or mortar, at the same time that you add the sausage to the pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. hot Italian sausage with fennel seed,
      loose or casings removed
  • 1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and
      diced
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. dried cavatappi or fusilli
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook slowly, breaking it up into bits with a fork, until it loses its raw color, about 5 minutes; do not allow it to brown or harden. Stir in the tomatoes and parsley. Increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the tomatoes have softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer briefly until the cream thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 12 minutes or according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, reheat the sauce gently over low heat.

Drain the pasta and return to the warm pot. Add the sauce and toss. Divide among warmed dishes and serve immediately. Pass the cheese at the table.
Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Classic Pasta at Home, by Janet Fletcher (Time-Life Books, 1998).