Recipes from An Epicurious Lifestyle's kitchen

Rigatoni with Sausage, Onions and Fennel

If you don’t already own The Silver Spoon Cookbook, you should go out and buy it! It’s Italy’s best-selling cookbook – the bible of authentic Italian cooking. A couple years ago, Peter bought me the first addition that came out in English. In the back of the cookbook they have a section of Menus by Celebrated Chefs, I used Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for Ziti ( I had Rigatoni on hand so, I used that instead) with Sausage, Onions and Fennel. ~Yum!

Rigatoni with Sausage, Onions and Fennel

Serves 6


1 tablespoon sea salt

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (without fennel seeds)

1 large fennel bulb with stem and frods (about 1 pound), trimmed and halved lengthwise

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, halved and sliced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon chile flakes

½ cup tomato paste

1 pound ziti (long tubes of dried pasta) or Rigatoni

Fennel frogs

1 cup Romano, Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, freshly grated


Bring a large pan of water with the salt to boiling point. Meanwhile, remove the sausage from its casing and break the meat up with your fingers. Slice the fennel halves lengthwise into ¼ -inch thick slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the base cut into 2-inch long batons. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage meat and cook, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for about 1-1 ½ minutes until it is sizzling and beginning to brown. Push the sausage to one side, add the onion slices and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until they are sizzling and wilting, then stir them in with the meat. Push the mixture to one side and add the fennel batons and cook for about 1 minute until wilting, then stir into the sausage onion mixture. Sprinkle in half the salt and push to one side again. Add the chile flakes and toast for 30 seconds, then stir them in. Move the mixture to sides of the pan, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes until it is sizzling and caramelizing, then stir it into the sausage mixture. Ladle 3 cups of the salted, boiling water into the skillet, stir well and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 6 minutes until the fennel is soft but not mushy. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water, stir and bring back to a boil, then cook for about 8 minutes until almost al dente. Check the sauce which should not become too thick – if necessary, stir in another 1 cup of the boiling pasta water. When the sauce is done, adjust the seasoning if necessary. When the pasta is al dente, lift it out of the pan with a spider or slotted spoon, drain briefly and add to the simmering sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding more pasta cooking water if the sauce seems too thick. Sprinkle with the fennel frods and cook, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes until the pasta is perfectly al dente and coated with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and serve.

Peter’s Wine Pick: 2009 Centine Toscana: red blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot

~Happy Cooking!

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