This is my go-to dish for pot luck dinners. It is always a hit…even with the kids! If you don’t have time to make your own sauce, you can substitute a jarred vodka tomato sauce from your local market.
Recipe courtesy Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 can (16-ounce) tomato sauce
- 1 can (28-ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) rigatoni, cooked per package directions
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- 2 In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan.
- 3 Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- 4 Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, cream, oregano, and thyme. Break up the tomatoes with a fork or spoon.
- 5 Over high heat, bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.
- 6 While the sauce is cooking, roll the sausage meat into 1-inch balls. In another large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the sausage meatballs until well browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook until they are no longer pink in the middle.
- 7 In a large mixing bowl combine the pasta, tomato sauce, and spinach leaves. Toss until well combined.
- 8 Transfer the mixture to a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish and top with the cheese. Bake until the mixture is slightly browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.