I got the idea for this dish from Giada de Laurentiis, the Food Network star with the really big…um…eyes. Seriously, I have tried many of her recipes and they have all been winners. This pasta is the ultimate comfort food for me and whenever I make it, everything I know about portion control goes out the window. In fact, last night I ate so much of it that all I could do was sit on the couch and watch TV.
While waiting for the pasta to cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil. Squeeze the contents of 4 sweet or hot Italian sausages out of their casings and into the pan. Add the onions to the pan. With a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into small pieces and cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes.
Just before the pasta is done, scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Don’t forget this step! Regular water will not suffice. The pasta water is full of the starches from the pasta, which will help to thicken the sauce. Cool, huh?
Using tongs, scoop the cooked pasta out of the water, let it drip slightly, and add it to the sausage mixture. You could strain the pasta, but why dirty another dish? The extra water from the pasta will help to extend the sauce.
Add the strips of roasted red pepper and toasted pine nuts.
Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Spaghetti with Creamy Mascarpone Sauce & Italian Sausage
1 lb. spaghetti pasta
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
4 links mild or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
2 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions or until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and onions, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it browns. Continue to cook until the sausage is cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. The onions will become tender and light golden brown. Add the cup of pasta cooking water. Scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mascarpone and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt into a sauce. Add the pasta, roasted red peppers, and pine nuts. Toss to coat with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve immediately.