Rigatoni with Sausage, Beans, and Greens
Our favorite and best method of making pasta—the same one the pros use in restaurants—is one in which the pasta finishes cooking in a glossy sauce made by emulsifying cheese into the pasta cooking liquid. It’s so easy and good it might change your life (or if not your entire life, then definitely your weeknight pasta game).
Ingredients for Rigatoni with Sausage, Beans, and Greens
3 tablespoons (or more) kosher salt
3 links sweet Italian sausage
115-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 bunch of Tuscan kale, rinsed
12-ounce chunk of Parmesan
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces rigatoni pasta
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Steps for Rigatoni with Sausage, Beans, and Greens
The first thing you want to do is get your pasta water boiling. Fill a large pot (preferably around 8 quarts) with approximately 6 quarts water, then put it over high heat. When you see wisps of steam, add 3 Tbsp. salt, stir once, and cover the pot. This will make it boil faster. Yes, it’s A LOT of salt, but as the pasta cooks, it absorbs the salty water, ensuring the pasta is seasoned from the inside out. You end up dumping most of the salt anyway when you drain the water.
While the water comes to a boil, prep your other ingredients. Remove 3 links sausage from its casings and set aside. Dump 1 can beans into a strainer or colander and rinse well. Shake off excess water. Turn out beans onto a couple of sheets of paper towel and pat dry with a few more paper towels. Strip kale leaves off the thick woody ribs and tear into small pieces; discard ribs. Finely grate 2 oz. Parmesan using the small holes of a box grater. Set aside about ½ cup cheese for garnishing.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or large skillet, preferably with straight sides, over medium-high. It’s best to use a vessel with high sides, because you’re about to do a lot of tossing and flinging when the pasta goes in, and this will minimize spillage. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until meat is browned, crispy in places, and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer with a spider or slotted spoon to a plate. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
Pour 12 oz. pasta into water and stir once. Set timer for 3 minutes less than the package advises. You’re going to cook it well shy of al dente.
While pasta is cooking, return pot to medium-low heat and add beans and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some beans with spoon, until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer about half of beans to plate with sausage.
Using a ladle or liquid measuring cup, add about 1 cup cooking liquid from pasta into pot with beans (reserve remaining liquid). Increase heat to medium-high.
Using spider or a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with beans and add kale. Toss vigorously with tongs to move the pasta around to incorporate the kale as it wilts.
Continue to cook, tossing often, until kale is wilted, pasta is al dente, and water is reduced by about half, about 4 minutes. If water is reduced before pasta is al dente, add another ¼–½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Reduce heat to low.
Add another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add cheese, tossing all the while, until cheese is emulsified into the water and forms a luxurious, glossy sauce.
Remove pot from heat and add reserved beans and sausage, then 2 Tbsp. butter, tossing, until butter is melted.
Taste pasta and add more salt if needed. Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze one half over pasta, then drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil
Divide pasta among bowls and top with reserved ½ cup cheese.
Image Courtesy of Alex Lau and bon appétit