Rigatoni with Sausage, Spinach, and Goat Cheese

While this recipe is delicious as is, you can do a couple of things to give it even more flavor. Use a combination of spicy and sweet sausage instead of just sweet and--something I do almost every time I use goat cheese--use a fork to mix into it 1/2 teaspoon each of chopped fresh parsley, chives, and thyme.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings 
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Ingredients

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped 

3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage or a combination of sweet and spicy, casings removed 

3/4 pound rigatoni 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves 

4 ounces spinach, well washed and dried and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups) 

1/2 pint cherry, grape or sungold tomatoes 

4 ounces fresh goat cheese 

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage and use a fork to crumble the sausage into the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, and fully cook the sausage, adding some of the pasta water to deglaze the pan.
  2. Cook the rigatoni until just shy of al dente. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. 
  3. Add the pasta to the pan with the sausage, reserving the cooking liquid, and add the parsley. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook, tossing, until the spinach has wilted. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid, if needed. Remove from the heat. Crumble the goat cheese with a fork and add it along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add a bit more of the cooking liquid if needed and serve. 

Cook’s Note

Which wine? A Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (DOC) transforms the widely cultivated Montepulciano into an enticing wine with warm, red fruit aromas, including ripe red cherries and currants. A good quality bottle would be perfect with this hearty dish.