December 14, 2011

Weeknight Quick and Easy Ragu: Mezzi Rigatoni with Sausage and Radicchio

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We've had some luck with radicchio in pasta in the past so when we saw this recipe in Mario Batali's new cookbook, we had to give it a try. It comes together pretty quickly while at the same time providing for a hearty, flavorful ragu that tastes like it cooked for hours.

We made this for Bryan's brother a few weeks ago when he was in town and he seemed to really enjoy it. If you can't find mezzi rigatoni, regular rigatoni, ziti, penne, or any other tube shaped pasta will suffice. But sometimes it's just nice to try something new :)

So without further adieu: rigatoni with sausage and radicchio!

Making the Dish
Coring and chopping the radicchio

Get started by chopping up all your vegetables. Half a red onion into a small dice, half a fennel bulb into a small dice, and a head of radicchio, cored, and finely chopped. Thinly slice a few heads of garlic as well. You can consider using a food processor for this since it is a lot of chopping.

All the vegetables, finely chopped

Using about a pound of sweet italian sausage with the casing removed and the sausage crumbled, sauté the sausage over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Once cooked nearly through and a nice golden crust has developed, remove the sausage from the pan and let rest on a paper towel.

Draining the sausage

In the rendered fat of the sausage, add in fennel seeds, chile flakes, the diced onion, fennel, garlic, and radicchio. That's right - we're sautéing the vegetables in the sausage fat. Good stuff all around. Season with salt and pepper lightly to facilitate the cooking.

Sautéing the radicchio and other vegetables in sausage fat.

Once the vegetables have softened (about 10 minutes), add the sausage back into the pan and add about half a cup of red wine, stirring together to deglaze the pan, and then stir in a cup of tomato sauce.

Adding the sausage to the radicchio and veggies
Stir everything together, bring to a boil, and then simmer while the vegetables soften and the sauce thickens, for about 10 - 15 minutes.

Seasoning the radicchio and sausage sauce with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, cook up your mezzi rigatoni. In salted water, cook until one minute shy of the package directions.

Mezzi rigatoni
When the pasta has finished, drain it, reserving some of the pasta water, and then add the rigatoni directly to the sausage and radicchio mixture. Toss everything together over medium heat, and if the sauce needs to be loosened up at all, add in some of the reserved pasta water.

The pasta tossed with the sausage and radicchio mixture

The Wine
We used this Talty Zinfandel for the cooking and the drinking and it was quite a treat. We got it from Lot 18 and were told that it was born from one of the oldest vineyards in the country. It had a great, full flavor, and was incredibly easy to drink.

Good wine
The Result
The radicchio doesn't overpower this dish as we had initially expected, and actually adds quite a bit of substance to the overall flavor.

The fennel helps in that department as well. For a dish that only takes about 20 minutes to make, it tastes like it was simmering for hours because of the variety of ingredients used. If you're looking for a new pasta dish to make during the week, this is a good one to try out!

Have you used radicchio in anything this season? Let us know about it in the comments so we can try it out!

Dinner is served?

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Mezzi Rigatoni with Sausage and Radicchio

Written by:

A new twist on a weeknight pasta with lots of flavor

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 2 - 4)

1 lb sweet italian sausage
1/2 lb mezzi rigatoni
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp chile flakes
3 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion
1/2 fennel bulb
1 head radicchio
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste



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