Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel

Ina Garten

"Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook"

"This is one of the heartiest and most satisfying dinners! I assemble it a day ahead, throw it in the oven to bake, and simply make a big green salad and buy some good crispy ciabatta."—JBF Award winner Ina Garten


  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil 
  • 3 cups chopped fennel (1 large bulb) 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion 
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed 
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 pound rigatoni, such as De Cecco 
  • 1.2 cup chopped parsley leaves 
  • 1 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, divided 


Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the fennel and onions and sauté for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the sausage and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, crumbling it with a fork, until nicely browned. Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil, and add the heavy cream, half-and-half, and tomato paste. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt, and cook the rigatoni according to the directions on the package. Drain and add to the sauce, stirring to coat the pasta. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and 1⁄2 cup of the Parmesan. Serve hot in shallow bowls with the remaining 1⁄2 cup Parmesan on the side.

Note: this recipe works well if you make it ahead of time. Just spoon the pasta into gratin dishes, sprinkle with Parmesan, and refrigerate for up to a day. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F.

Reprinted from Cooking for Jeffrey. Copyright © 2016 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.


6 servings