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Pasta Rustica with Chicken Sausage and Three Cheeses

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 lb. chicken or turkey sausage, casings
      removed
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes in puree, tomatoes
      coarsely chopped and puree reserved
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into bite-size pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Stir in the basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and puree and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a baking dish.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add the pasta, stir well and cook until barely al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, the ricotta and fontina. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake until the cheeses are melted and the tips of the pasta are crusty, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).