Penne Pasta with Sausage and Wild Mushrooms


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This pasta dish is a higher level of difficulty only because there are many components. You can make it easier on yourself by using store-bought tomato sauce.

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  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 oz. hot or mild Italian pork sausage, thinly sliced
  • 2 C. wild mushrooms or seasonal mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. dry red wine
  • 16 oz. Salsa Pomodoro (see recipe below) or your favorite pasta sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper, freshly ground to taste
  • 1 lb. penne (rigate) pasta
  • 16 medium sage leaves
  • 1/4 C. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Salsa Pomodoro:
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium-size white onion, medium diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 lb. fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded (substitute 2 lb. canned, peeled Roma tomatoes in juice)
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme or 1 Tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste

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Pasta: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the ricotta cheese with the egg until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. In a heavy 3-quart saucepot over a medium high burner heat the pot and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked and lightly browned. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes or until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the pan is nearly dry. De-glaze the pot with the red wine. Scrape the bottom carefully with a wooden spoon to release any crystallized juices. Cook until the pan is nearly dry. Then stir in the salsa Pomodoro. Bring the pot to simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn off burner on the pot.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with either 1/4 C. kosher salt or 1/8 C. table salt per gallon of water. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is al-dente. Drain the pasta, transfer it to the pot with the sauce, and stir well to combine. Pour all the contents of the pot into a lightly oiled 4-quart casserole, spread evenly. Arrange the leaves of sages on top of the pasta. Dot the surface with the ricotta and egg mixture. Then sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake the pasta for 20 minutes. Allow the pasta to stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Salsa Pomodoro: Heat 2-qt. pot over medium burner. Add the olive oil, onion, and sauté for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf and bring the pot to a simmer. Cook this for 1 hour and stir occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep sauce warm until ready to use.

Yield: 8 servings

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