Penne Rigate with Italian Sausage, Spinach and Cannellini Beans

Have you ever gone to a really fabulous Italian restaurant and tried to recreate their spaghetti sauce? For years I would come home and make sauces that just didn’t taste the same. I finally realized the type of canned tomatoes I used was the problem. All canned tomatoes are not the same! If you want an authentic tasting sauce, I suggest you use San Marzano tomatoes in your recipes.

The name San Marzano denotes both a point of origin and a variety of tomato. They are grown in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius in volcanic rich soil, in the Valle del Sarno. So prized are these tomatoes that the Italian government regulates their packaging and certifies their authenticity with the emblem EU “DOP” on the label. One has to be careful when purchasing these tomatoes. Many times the same company packages both authentic and imitation San Marzano tomatoes. The labels look identical. Look for the emblem EU “DOP”

This is a really fabulous Italian supper that takes approximately an hour to make from start to finish. I know it looks like a laundry list of ingredients but you are basically making homemade spaghetti sauce and adding spinach and white beans.

Penne Rigate with Italian Sausage, Spinach and Cannellini Beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled, ½ inch dice
1 ½ celery stalks, ½ inch dice
1 cup yellow onion, ½ inch dice
1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Pinot Noir (red wine)
Two- 28 oz. San Marzano peeled tomatoes, including juice, chopped
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
12 oz. Penne Rigate
1 cup canned white cannellini beans, washed and drained
10 oz. fresh leaf spinach
1/3 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced carrot, celery and onion. Cook for 7 minutes or until soft. Deglaze pan with ½ cup red wine and reduce liquid to ¼ cup. Reserve.

While cooking the vegetables, in a separate, large stockpot cook Italian sausage. Break up sausage. Cook until browned. Drain grease, saving the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and return sausage to stockpot. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze pan with ½ cup red wine and reduce to ¼ cup. Add cooked carrots, celery and onion to sausage. Roughly dice tomatoes in each can using a knife. Pour in tomatoes and juice. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and basil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, bring salted water in a large stockpot to a boil. Add Penne Rigate and cook according to package directions or until al dente. Drain, saving ½ cup pasta water.

After sauce has cooked 20 minutes, add ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water, cannellini beans, spinach and parsley. Cook for 5 to10 minutes more or until spinach wilts. Stir in whipping cream and Parmesan cheese. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Published in The News and Neighbor on January 18, 2017


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