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Penne with Escarole, Spicy Sausage and Rosemary

At one time, fresh rosemary was used mainly for medicinal purposes. Later, the aromatic herb became popular in the kitchen and is now a favorite for seasoning soups, stews, roasted meats and sauces. It adds a delicious herbal note to this pasta, balancing the spiciness of the sausage and the bitterness of the escarole.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spicy Italian sausages
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. dried penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches escarole, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to taste

Directions:

Position a rack 4 to 6 inches under a broiler and preheat.

Broil the sausages, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, and the juices run clear when the sausages are pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. When the sausages are cool enough to handle, cut them diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices and set aside.

Bring a large pot two-thirds full of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and return to a boil, stirring as needed. Cook according to the package instructions until the pasta is al dente (tender but firm to the bite). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes and sauté, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender and translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the escarole and sauté, stirring often, until the leaves are tender and wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sausages and the reserved cooking water and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the seasonings with salt, add the sauce to the pasta and toss to mix.

Divide the pasta among 4 warmed pasta bowls and serve immediately. Pass the cheese alongside.
Serves 4.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.