Monday, April 11, 2011

I Heart Rigatoni: Rigatoni with "Swicy" Sausage & Cream

I'm an Italian ... by marriage, that is.  When Sundays roll around in our household, there's really no debate as to what's for dinner.  It's always some variation on "macaroni and gravy".  My goal, therefore, has been to find healthy and flavorful ways to put my spin on the concept.  My rigatoni with swicy (sweet & spicy) sausage and cream is one of my Sunday Greatest Hits.  I prepared this as somewhat of an extra, throwaway dish for a surprise spaghetti and meatballs birthday party for my husband last year to break things up a bit, and the entire platter was wolfed by 60 guests in about 10 minutes.  I'm partial to it exactly the way I make it -- the added kick from the spicy sausage truly elevates this dish.  But, you can make it with just sweet sausage, and you'll love it just the same.  The whole meal can be made in under 20 minutes (when you boil the pasta water while preparing the sauce), which saves valuable time and effort.  And, using whole grain pasta and fat free heavy cream cuts the carb and calorie intake for you and your family.  This is another great meal that keeps well and even tastes better as leftovers.  That's a win.  So, what are you waiting for? ... MANGIA!!!   

Rigatoni with "Swicy" Sausage and Cream 
(serves 4 to 6)

1/2 lb Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 lb Spicy Italian Sausage
1/2 cup (1 stick)  I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
1 cup fat free heavy cream
1/3 cup any tomato sauce (referred to as "gravy" in my household)
1 tbsp nutmeg
Freshly ground sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana cheese
1 lb Barilla Plus rigatoni (or whole wheat rigatoni)
3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves

- Place the sausage in 1 1/2 cups water.  Cover, bring to a boil and turn heat down to low.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. 
- Remove sausage from water.  Drain it on a paper towel on a plate.  Once it is cool to touch, remove the casings and crumble.
- In a large skillet, melt 1/2 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter over medium heat.  Add fat free heavy cream, turn heat to low and cook until mixture is well blended and slightly thickened, stirring once or twice with a wooden spoon.  Stir in crumbled "swicy" sausage, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook for one minute.  Add 1/3 cup of  tomato sauce and Parmigiana cheese, give it a quick stir, and promptly remove from heat.
- Cook the macaroni is 6 quarts of salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain in a colander, transfer to a large pasta bowl containing 1 tbsp of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and toss quickly.  Mix 3/4 of the sauce with the macaroni and spoon the remaining sauce on top. 
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and Parmigiana cheese. 

Real Meals for the Working Woman


  1. Hi, this recipe sounds fantastic but I've never seen fat free heavy cream. Where do you buy it? What is the brand? Are you referring to fat free half and half by Land O Lakes, for example? Please respond and thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Lehigh Valley and Land O Lakes both make fat free heavy creams. They are not carried in every store but are out there. Fat free half-and-half also works almost as well as a substitute!