Rigatoni with Sausage and Basil

I have told you before about my love for Cafe Zupas.  Their fresh salads, sandwiches, and soups are such a refreshing break from greasy hamburgers and fries.  Everything is made right there in the restaurant/cafe.  Super fresh.  So when I was asked to review their cookbook and prepare some of their recipes, I jumped at the opportunity.  Of course, no brainer.

The first recipe I chose to make was a huge hit with my family.  We love pasta, and I love making my own sauces.  The Hubs has had problems with GERD for the last few years, and my girls are uber picky about pasta sauces.  So when I can make my own sauces and adjust the taste, use fresh ingredients, and limit the preservatives, it's a huge hit for me.  I seriously love looking at all the ingredients (using ALL kind of cracks me up, since it's really only a handful) and tasting the outcome.  

This recipe was super easy to make and it literally would feed 8 people.  You know how sometimes a recipe tells you it'll feed 8 people, but in reality it'll only feed 4-5?  Not this.  So if you are making it for a smaller family, I would half the recipe.  Next time, that is what I will do.  Also, I spaced picking up some heavy cream, so I used 2% milk instead.  The sauce turned out just fine, with a few less calories.  So if you want to cut a few calories, you could use half and half or 2% milk instead.  But I wouldn't go lower than 2% or your sauce won't turn out right.

And after you try this, you should head over to Cafe Zupas (if you have one close to you), and have some lunch (and a bite of their Sinful 7 Cake - what we call "Death by Chocolate Cake").  

Rigatoni with Sausage and Basil


1 Tbs. olive oil
3 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1 pound rigatoni, prepared according to directions on box
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and saute until no longer pink, breaking up the sausage along the way with the back of a wooden spoon.

2. Add onion and garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add crushed tomatoes and basil.  Bring sauce to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add cream and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Add rigatoni to skillet and toss until sauce coats pasta.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

Serves 8