• Rigatoni with Winter Squash, Sausage & Kale


Rigatoni with Winter Squash, Sausage & Kale

By Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos

In Tuscany, cooks don’t have a lot of uses for hard-shelled winter squash. It is typically roasted as a side dish or turned into soup. At our Brooklyn farmer’s market in autumn and winter, the stands are filled with a huge variety of squashes, each one more attractive and tasty than the other. Here, we cook with squash all the time, and the entire family benefits. This pasta balances the somewhat sweet squash with sausage, kale, and Romano cheese. The smooth shape of butternut squash makes it easy to work with, but you can substitute your favorite (such as kabocha).

Recipe from Super Tuscan by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos.

Rigatoni with Winter Squash, Sausage & Kale


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet and serving
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces sweet or spicy Italian sausage, about 2 links, casings removed
  • Two 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • One 7-ounce bunch black (also called lacinato, Tuscan, or dinosaur) kale, tough stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving



Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large-rimmed baking sheet.

Peel and seed the squash. Cut the flesh into 1 ∕2-inch cubes. Measure out 3 cups cubed squash and reserve the remainder for another use. (We always seem to have leftover squash. You might want to roast all of it and save the leftover squash to add to salads or stir into cooked rice.)

Toss the squash and 2 tablespoons of the oil on the prepared baking sheet. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and tinged with brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Keep warm in a turned-off oven with the oven door ajar.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with the side of the spoon into bite-sized pieces, until the sausage is browned, if not cooked through, about 6 minutes. Move the sausage and rosemary to one side of the skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the opposite side of the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring just the onion mixture occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Mix the ingredients together and continue cooking to blend the flavors, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, stir in the wine, and bring it to a boil. Discard the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the kale and return the heat to medium-low. Cook until the kale is just tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the squash and cover to keep warm.

While the sausage mixture is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and cook, according to the package directions, until al dente. Scoop out and reserve about 1 ∕2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta well and return to the cooking pot.

Add the sausage mixture and Romano cheese to the rigatoni and mix well, adding enough of the reserved cooking water to make a light sauce. Spoon into individual bowls, top with a drizzle of oil, and serve, with additional Romano passed on the side.

Recipe excerpted from Super Tuscan by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos.

Like this recipe? You may also enjoy: 

Debi Mazar’s Roasted Olives with Lemon, Garlic & Herbs
Rigatoni with Veal Bolognese with Butternut Squash
• Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage

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