Gemelli with Asparagus & Sausage

Ingredients

 

  • 2 bunches small or medium asparagus or 8 ounces broccoli florets

  • 1 pound gemelli or fusilli

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage

  • 1/3 cup whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup sheep’s milk or whole-milk ricotta

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • Ricotta cheese (optional)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water, with 1 Tbsp. salt added, to boiling. Cut top 2 inches from asparagus stalks (reserve asparagus stalks for another use; see “What About the Stalks?”) Cook asparagus tips or broccoli in the boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, just until tender. Using a large skimmer or long-handled strainer, transfer asparagus or broccoli to a colander. Rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking.

  2. Return asparagus cooking water to boiling. Add the pasta; cook according to package directions, about 10 minutes, just until tender to the bite (al dente). While pasta is cooking, spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, just until golden.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender; drain off fat. Add asparagus tips or broccoli, all except 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts, the cream, and salt. Simmer about 2 minutes. When pasta is almost done cooking, use a skimmer or long-handled strainer to transfer it to the skillet, reserving cooking water. Add ricotta, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Increase heat to high; toss until pasta is well coated, about 30 seconds. Add Parmigiano then toss again. Transfer to a large platter, top with reserved pine nuts and basil. Serve with additional ricotta.