Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula

When I first saw this recipe on Epicurious, I knew I had to make it.  It sounded like the perfect, lighter pasta dish for spring and summer.  Spicy sausage, fresh basil, peppery arugula…. I was so right.  The sauce was incredibly bright because of the fresh herbs and arugula.  It was not too heavy, but hearty enough to satisfy a big appetite.  You must make this as soon as possible!

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula

Start by heating the oil, and add the onion.  Saute until it becomes translucent.  Add the garlic, and saute just until the garlic aroma fills the air.  Next, add the sausage.  Break it up with your spoon as it browns.  Drain off the grease and add the tomatoes and wine.  Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.  The spiciness of the sausage will seep into the tomato sauce during this time.  Epicurious says that you can stop the sauce here and refrigerate, to be continued the next day.

Making the Sauce

Cook the pasta until al dente.  “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth” in Italian.  In English that means it’s tender, but still a bit firm when you bite into it.


Chop up the herbs just before you plan to mix them into the sauce.

Stack the basil leaves.  Roll them up tightly, then slice thinly.  Pull the leaves of the oregano off of the semi-woody stem.  The stem isn’t very tender or tasty, but the leaves pack a flavor punch.

Basil Roll it Up Ready to Chop

Oregano Chopped

The method for slicing the basil is called a “chiffonade”.  I think it looks pretty, especially as a garnish.  Little ribbons of basil.

Add the basil and oregano, arugula, and pasta to the sauce

With Herbs With ArugulaWith Pasta

Stir well over the heat.  The arugula will wilt, and as soon as that happens, it’s ready to serve.

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula

This dish was amazing, and I will be making it again and again.

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula

Yield: 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
8 to 16 ounces rigatoni
1 cup fresh arugula (packed), stemmed
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add sausage to pan and break up with spoon. When sausage is browned, drain off grease. Add diced and crushed tomatoes, and wine. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If making ahead, stop here to cool. Cover and refrigerate up to one day. Rewarm before continuing. Cook pasta as directed, until tender yet slightly firm to the bite (al dente). Drain pasta and add to sauce, along with basil, oregano, and arugula. Stir well and heat just until arugula wilts, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately topped with Parmesan cheese (if desired).


Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2008

5 thoughts on “Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula”

  1. Hi Alicia! Thanks so much for posting such a great recipe!! I just made this dish and it tastes amazing! 🙂 I love your site- everything looks so delicious.

  2. I just found this on TasteSpotting today when searching for a good recipe for supper. I knew I wanted rigatoni in some kind of red sauce but I had no idea that this dish would be *exactly* what I didn’t know I wanted. It was awesome!

    My supermarket didn’t have spicy Italian sausages in stock so I made up the difference in spice with a bit of crushed red pepper and fennel. And it was tremendous. I love the way the arugula added a nice peppery kick at the very end. Totally perfect.

    Thanks for the great blog post!

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