It’s quite possibly the most delectable and scrumptious thing on the planet. I mean, as soon as I cook a box of pasta and toss it into the colander, still piping hot, I literally stand over the sink eating noodle after noodle. There doesn’t need to be a damn thing on it, it just has to be itself. Slightly firm but still melt-in-your-mouth. You know what I’m saying, and I’m certain you’ve found yourself standing over the sink eating noodles, too.
Please tell me this is true, otherwise I feel embarrassed that you now know my deepest darkest secret.
But not really, because you basically already know how nutty I am about these things, so it’s no secret – I just want you to be pasta friends with me, okay?
Wow, anyway. Let’s forget everything I just said and get to the details of this pasta dish.
Here we have rigatoni [ehrm, cooked al dente] with the most fabulous sauce that is ready, start to finish, in just 10 minutes.
It starts with olive oil [doesn’t everything?] in a hot skillet, then thinly sliced fennel is added to give that infamous anise flavor, then spicy sausage is tossed in and cooked until the edges are brown and crispy. Then we need a large dollop of minced garlic [because, Italian] and chopped artichokes because it can’t be Pasta Calabrese with Artichokes… without artichokes. And they’re just delicious, even out of the can. After adding a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and oregano, the sausage and veggies get hit with some dry white wine and pasta water and finished with half and half. The pasta is tossed with the sauce and folded with a handful of Parmesan cheese [because, Italian] and bright and colorful arugula to make a perfectly gorgeous dish.
And you guys, before I move on. I need to tell you that adding pasta water into the sauce is just the most brilliant thing ever. Because the water is starchy, it’ll thicken the sauce and make it super-silky and luxurious. Please try it.
So, how do you feel about this? Pasta tossed in a light cream sauce with artichokes, fennel and sausage? I can tell you that I’m ready to dive in and swim around because it’s. that. good.
Isn’t it so cool? Life can be incredibly gourmet without spending hours in the kitchen. 10 MINUTES is all it takes.
- 12 oz. whole wheat rigatoni or other tubular pasta
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 head fennel, fronds and stalks removed, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. dry hard sausage or Italian sausage, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 6 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped*
- Coarse salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano leaves, to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¾ cup half and half (can use fat free, if desired) or cream or milk
- ½ cup shaved or grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup baby arugula
- Cook rigatoni according to package directions. Reserve pasta water and set pasta aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and cook 1-2 minutes, until starting to soften. Add sausage and saute 1-2 minutes until it starts to brown, then add garlic and saute 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Add the artichokes and season with a dash of salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and oregano; stir to combine.
- Add ¾ cup pasta water and dry white wine. Cook 1-2 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken. Stir in half and half and add the cooked pasta to the pot. Season with another dash of salt and pepper and toss sauce with pasta.
- Fold in Parmesan cheese and arugula and distribute pasta into bowls. Serve.
- *Note: To make this dish extra delicious, use marinated artichokes and add the marinade to the pasta.
P.S. I had a similar dish to this in Little Italy, which is what inspired me to make this for you. And for myself [bcz I miss San Fran…] and I love food.