This is an amazing dish! I love the combination of bitter from the rapini and the creaminess from the ricotta. This dish is excellent with just the veggies and pasta in the ricotta cheese. But I will often add 3-4 sausages out of the casing, particularly if dinner guests are meat eaters. Otherwise this is an excellent lunch meal, vegetarian meal, or for more guests serve as an appetizer.
An alternative to sausages would be bacon, either pork or turkey, or pancetta.
It could also be served at room temp as part of a buffet since the ricotta won’t congeal and the cooked pasta won’t lose its structure and fall apart. The colder it gets the more heightened the leek and onion flavour comes forward. Substitute it with gluten free pasta, such as brown rice penne. But those types of pasta usually lose their appeal once they get cold, so serve it hot.
I’m also really partial to Molisana pasta. They use 100% Durum Wheat Semolina flour to make their pasta. It’s a higher quality of wheat and tastes really good. It’s also easier to digest and in fact when I make fresh pasta (the non-egg recipe) I use semolina flour.
Rapini and Ricotta Pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large Leek Stem Diced Slice your leek down the full length and pull layers apart to wash under water and remove any soil
- 1 large Cooking (Yellow) Onion Diced
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced Opt for locally grown garlic instead of imported
- 3 large Roasted red peppers, sliced Preferably packed in vinegar. If packed in oil dry with paper towel
- 1 Head Rapini - tops only Use stems for another dish
- 225 Grams Pennoni Lisci 21A I used Molisana brand but another tubular pasta like rigatoni, penne lisce would work.
- 3/4 Cup Dry white or Red wine I used an Italian red wine but a dry white would work also. Whichever wine you plan to drink with this dish is what you should cook with
- 3-4 Mild Sausage links I used Metro "in house" sausages - omit if making dish vegetarian
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/2 Cup Curly parsley, chopped fine
- Salt & Black pepper to taste
- Wash and cut off tops of rapini. In a large frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil add rapini. Add 2 tsp of salt and cook on low-med heat to tenderize the tops. About 15 minutes.
- Once they're soft remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or plate. Slice open sausage links and remove from casing and cook on medium heat, breaking apart. Cook till they're about 80% done and then remove from heat into same plate as rapini.
- Return frying pan to heat and cook diced leeks. After 5-7 minutes add onion. After 3 minutes add garlic.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Once boiling add 1/2 to full bag of pasta. You can add as much or as little cooked pasta to the finished dish as you like. Use the remaining cooked but unused pasta for another dish, like a pasta salad. Cook pasta according to directions on the packaging.
- In frying pan add wine and let reduce, about 5 minutes. Then add sliced red peppers until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Return to heat rapini and sausage and stir well. Turn off heat after about 5 minutes, until food is hot. Once pasta is cooked al dente transfer sausage and rapini to a large serving bowl.
- Add ricotta to meat and rapini mix. Stir really well.
- Once pasta is cooked add to ricotta and meat mixture. Use reserve pasta water to water down ricotta just slightly. Stir well.
- Top with parsley and red chili flakes if you want it a bit spicy.