Hearty, filling, and needing only one pot, this comforting dish will warm a three-dog night. I first cooked with passata (strained uncooked tomato purée) during a visit to Italy, but have since found passata on some upscale American supermarket shelves.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 2 sweet or hot Italian sausages (5 to 6 ounces each), casings removed
- One 24-ounce jar of passata (see above) or one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound cavatappi, fusilli, or other small, tubular pasta
- 5 packed cups baby spinach (about 5 ounces)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Use your hands to pull the sausages apart into small pieces; add to the skillet and cook untouched for 1 minute.
Continue to cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, stirring at 1-minute intervals and breaking up the sausage into 1/2-inch chunks, until browned and crispy on the outside with no pink remaining.
Carefully pour in the passata (it may splatter), then add the cumin, red pepper flakes and 2 cups of water, stirring to combine. Season with salt and increase the heat to bring to a boil.
Add the pasta, coating it with the liquid. (It won’t be fully submerged, and that’s OK.) Adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer with small bubbles forming on the surface. Cover and let cook, stirring every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticking at the bottom of the pan, until the pasta is al dente, about 1 minute less than the package instructions. If the pasta is still hard at this point, add a few tablespoons of warm water at a time and cook until just al dente. Depending on your pasta size and shape, you may need to add several tablespoons of water.
When the pasta is just al dente, reduce the heat to low and season to taste with salt. Stir in the spinach in batches, and cook, uncovered, until most of the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute more. (It will continue to wilt in the heat of the pasta after you serve it.) If the pasta seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon warm water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Divide the pasta among serving bowls. Top with Parmesan and serve additional extra virgin olive oil on the side for drizzling.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from cooking.nytimes.com