While sausage is convenient because it’s already seasoned, you could start this sauce with any ground meat you like, though you may want to up the seasonings a bit. (Of all the recipes we tested for this issue, this was Grandma’s favorite. She had two helpings at lunch and asked me to set some aside for her for dinner that night as well.)
- Kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casing
- 1 small onion, cut into chunks
- 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon peperoncino
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ head Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 pound farfalle
- ½ cup grated Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. To a large, deep skillet, over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage. Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, celery, and thyme in a food processor and pulse to make a chunky paste or pestata. Once the sausage is browned, add the pestata and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has dried out and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the peperoncino.
Make an empty spot in the pan, add the tomato paste, and let it toast for a minute or two. Stir the tomato paste into the vegetables and pour in the white wine. Simmer until almost reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and 3 cups of pasta water. Cover, and cook until the cabbage is wilted, about 20 minutes. Uncover, and continue cooking to thicken the sauce and until the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.
Meanwhile, cook the farfalle until al dente. Remove with a spider directly to the sauce. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding a little pasta water if it seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the grated cheese, toss, and serve.