Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Peas

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A couple of weekends ago, I went to Cleveland for my fabulous nephew’s third birthday party (pictures of his fun pirate cake coming soon!).  On the way, we stopped at a Panera, and I ordered the San Marzano rigatoni.  As far as chain restaurants go, Panera is pretty good.  And the San Marzano rigatoni was pretty good…but Laura’s mom Karla makes a really similar recipe, and (shh! don’t tell Panera!) Karla’s is better.

Karla’s rigatoni has a lovely tomato sauce, mellowed out with onions and garlic and brightened with white wine.  There’s sweet Italian sausage, cheerful peas nestling in the rigatoni, and salty parm to top it all off.  This rigatoni is just great fall comfort food.  And even better – it’s easy and fast!  An ideal weeknight dinner.

At this point, I’m sure you’re consumed with a few burning questions:  Amy, why are you posting this recipe instead of Laura?  Aren’t you treading on sacred familial ground here?  Do we sense a food blog feud in the making?  Well no, not exactly.  Laura eats mostly vegetarian since marrying Tim, but sausage still makes the occasional appearance in my kitchen.  So if you were going to get this recipe at all, it had to come from me.  But credit must be given where credit is due: Thanks Karla!

Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Peas

3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (or whole tomatoes, cut into three or four pieces each)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 pound dried pasta (3/4 of a one-pound box)
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1. Cut open the casings on the sausages and scrape the meat into a skillet.  Add the onion and garlic, and brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up any clumps as you go.

2. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, wine, and salt, and bring everything to a boil. Turn the heat down a simmer, cover the skillet, and simmer the sauce for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, make the pasta according to the directions on the box.

4. After the sauce has simmered for ten minutes, add the peas, recover, and simmer for five more minutes.  Pour the sauce over the noodles, and top with the parmesan.