I grew up in an Italian family. My mother and her sisters served Italian dinners on Sundays, holidays, and many “random” days. We regularly ate spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna, of course, but also sausages and peppers, pasta e fagioli, Italian wedding soup, stuffed eggplant, stuffed shells, baked ziti and a variety of pasta. I was probably the only kid in my kindergarten class who could tell the difference between cavatelli, manicotti, fettuccine, and bow ties.
This recipe makes me smile as I write it because cavatelli is the pasta that most reminds me of my childhood. For some reason my siblings and I called it “peanuts”. This dish is perfect for my own little family, especially since my husband and youngest son consider pasta recipes incomplete until a little meat is added!
Cuisine: Italian American
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total duration: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 5
- 14 ounces cavatelli pasta (or other pasta)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound Italian sausage, meat removed from the casings
- 1/4 cup white wine (not too sweet)
- 1 cup Tomato puree
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (for a lower calorie option, use light or half and half cream instead)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups baby spinach (or kale), torn into bite-size pieces
- grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Here’s how to do it:
- Boil the pasta for 1 minute LESS than the instructions state. Just before draining, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the sausage meat and cook, breaking it up as you go, about 4 minutes.
- Add wine and cook. Let the wine evaporate (the wine smell will disappear).
- Add the rest of the ingredients except the spinach. Stir well, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 minutes, combining all the flavors.
- Add cooked pasta and spinach. Stir for 1 minute to evenly coat the pasta with the sauce. The sauce will thicken, but if it gets too thick, use the reserved pasta cooking water to thin it out a bit. Serve immediately, garnished with grated parmesan.
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