This is a great seasonal pasta sauce. It makes nutritional sense, is full of flavor, and is economical, especially for large families. And as I always say, you can change the proportion of vegetables, meats, and pasta. Again, this is a commonsense decision: if you want, you can substitute chicken or chopped turkey for the sausages. Whatever you choose, you need to cook the ingredients slowly for a while, until the cabbage becomes mellow and sweet. Penne is delicious with this recipe, but for a special occasion you can serve this sauce with fresh pappardelle.
- Kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casing
- ½ cup peeled, chopped carrot
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ head Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded (about 4 cups)
- 1 pound penne, or 1 pound fresh pappardelle
- 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. Add the carrot, onion, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with the -red–pepper flakes.
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, then add the cabbage and 3 cups 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.
Meanwhile, cook the penne until al dente. Drain the pasta, and add to the sauce. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.
Remove the skillet from the heat, add the grated cheese, toss, and serve.