Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage explodes with earthy, vibrant flavor, and is equally wonderful with or without the sausage. This is easy comfort food the whole family loves!
Writing the title for a recipe can be a little bit like making a speech at the Oscars….you want to fit everybody in but sometimes it’s impossible… in this case, beautiful crunchy toasted walnuts, a whole cup of them, didn’t get a mention, but don’t count them out, they add so much to this happy, yummy family style pasta. It won’t win any awards for its looks, but nobody will care. Think hot spicy chunks of Italian sausage, tons of fresh sage sizzled up in some browned butter, fresh lemon juice, cream, Asiago cheese, those walnuts, and copious amounts of parsley…oh, and ziti. Now if you can resist that you’re not human.
I’d say most of the ingredients in this Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage are equally important, but there is a hero — the fresh sage, and lots of it. It gives the dish an aromatic, earthy flavor that makes it stand out from the ordinary. I look for that in a recipe, something that will bring a new experience to the table. And if you think of sage as a powdery dried herb that’s the background note in stuffing, you owe it to yourself to experience the fresh stuff. The leaves are velvety soft and cushiony, it’s a fun herb to work with. You’ll need a nice bunch of it for this recipe.
This recipe is adapted from the great Yotam Ottolenghi. It’s a variation of a recipe in Plenty More. I made it with and without the sausage and both were fantastic. I highly recommend it.
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
- 3/4 lb ziti, or other similar pasta
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 1/4 cup cream
- juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tbsp)
- 3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese (or other hard Italian cheese)
- lots (at least 1/3 cup) chopped fresh parsley
- Put the walnuts in a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet and toast over medium heat until you start to smell them and they begin to brown, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Cool slightly and then give them a rough chop. Set aside.
- Remove the sausage meat from the casing and brown over medium heat until there is no pink left. Set aside.
- Cook the ziti according to package directions, to just shy of al dente. I usually cook my pasta a good 2 minutes short of what the package says.
- Pluck the sage leaves off their stems and finely slice them. You should have at least 1/3 - 1/2 cup.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet (big enough to hold the final dish) over a good medium high heat and add the sage. Let the sage sizzle and cook for two minutes, just until the butter begins to brown, Stir fairly constantly.
- Lower the heat and add the cream, stirring to combine. Add salt and pepper, sausage, and walnuts to the pan.
- When the pasta is just tender, drain and add it to the sauce, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.
- Toss well with lemon juice, cheese, and parsley and heat through. Add a little more cream, or some of the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce seems skimpy. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lemon juice.
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