Monday, March 31, 2014

Rich Folks Pasta

After more than a month of radio silence, I'm back with a great recipe I collected a while back but never had the courage to try.  It was much easier than I expected, and wow - the payoff was awesome.  This is a great pasta recipe for a dinner party, pot luck or just the family with lots of yummy leftovers.

The original title of the recipe as I received it from an old friend was "Sausage Pasta With Tomatoes & Spinach."  Hmm - boring.  I named it more for how it tastes - rich.

1 lb sweet Italian sausage (casing removed).  You can get your grocery store meat counter to do this, or you can snip the end and slice the side of a sausage and squeeze it out.
1 medium onion
3 large garlic cloves
1 28 oz can iced whole tomatoes
1/4 prepared pesto sauce
10 oz rigatoni or penne
1 c. Romano cheese
8 c. spinach leaves (2/3 of 10 oz package)
6 oz mozzarella cheese - chopped
6 oz mozzarella cheese - shred
1 pint heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook pasta to "al dente" (not too long or it will be mushy after baking).
In a large saucepan, brown onion, sausage and garlic about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes with juices.  Simmer until thicker - about 10 minutes.  Stir in pesto and cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Oil a 9 x 13" baking dish.  Mixed cooked pasta, raw spinach, chopped mozzarella and 1/3 cup Romano cheese.  Stir in the hot sauce.  Mix and transfer to baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining Romano cheese and shredded mozzarella.  It should look like this:

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  You will need to let this cool before you can serve it.  You also may want to serve small portions - it is rich.  You'll notice that the combination of the tomatoes, heavy cream and pesto taste a bit like a vodka sauce, but you will be happy you didn't take shortcuts.

Garnish with parsley and enjoy!