This hearty pasta dish comes from John Barricelli, the manager of our prep kitchen at the television studio. It can be made the day before and reheated.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
- 2 cans (28-ounce) unpeeled crushed tomatoes in puree
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 1/2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add rigatoni, and cook, stirring occasionally, 9 minutes. Drain in a colander, and rinse under cool water until cool. Set aside.
In a medium nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta with half of the mozzarella. Stir to combine. Season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
To assemble, spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add half of the rigatoni in an even layer. Spread with 1/2 cup sauce, ricotta mixture, sausage, and 1 cup more sauce. Top with remaining rigatoni, and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Any remaining sauce may be reheated and served on the side or reserved for another use. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top to cover. Place baking dish on a baking sheet, and transfer to oven. Bake until bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.