- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausages (sweet or spicy), casings removed before cooking
- ¼ to ¾ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional according to taste)
- ½ small onion (red or white), finely chopped
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
- 1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes (with puree)
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 pound farfalle (DeCecco brand works well)
- salt for pasta water: 1 tablespoon table salt or 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ cup packed fresh basil, chiffonade right before serving
- grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large (12-inch) heavy skillet. When simmering, add Italian sausage and crushed red pepper.
- Sauté sausage until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks for about 5–6 minutes. Add chopped onion and garlic; reduce heat. Cook until soft but don’t let brown, 3–4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cream and reduce heat to a simmer (so the cream doesn’t curdle). After about 5 minutes, taste. If the sauce is a little acidic, add ½ teaspoon sugar.
- Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. When boiling vigorously, add pasta and cook until it still has a “bite;” undercook it by about 3 minutes, as it will finish cooking in the sauce in the skillet.
- When the pasta is ready, reserve and set aside 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta or remove with a large slotted spoon and add to sauce/sausage. Toss pasta and sauce over medium-low heat and toss until all the sauce coats the pasta. Add pasta water by ¼ cups to ensure the sauce stays creamy and coats everything. The dish usually requires at least ½ cup of pasta water. After 2–3 minutes, taste pasta for doneness, and if it’s “al dente,” remove from burner. Taste for seasoning. If you think it needs salt, remember that cheese adds salt.
- Transfer to a large serving dish and chiffonade* and add fresh basil. Toss pasta with basil. Serve the grated cheese on the side.
Gigi’s Tip: Basil chiffonade
Pile basil leaves on top of one another and gently roll into a cigar shape. With a sharp knife, cut basil into thin strips. I’ve been making this for 30 years and it’s my most requested dish. Buon appetito a tutti! (Enjoy your meal!)