Updated: Sep 26, 2019
This recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s recipe, “Cartwheels with Sausages, Cream and Tomato,” in Marcella’s Italian Kitchen: Her New Book of Classic Italian Cooking, Knopf, 1993. Marcella’s recipe uses more cream, less sausage, and less tomatoes. We like to call this "Christmas Pasta," because of the red sauce and green parsley, but also because we sometimes make it for Christmas dinner. It’s that good, and so simple. Marcella Hazan basically taught me how to make real Italian food. As a young woman and a newlywed, I cooked my way through her books, making elaborate pasta dishes for dinner parties, much as Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child.
This recipe is one that I distinctly remember eating while growing up, and is definitely what I consider to be the ultimate Italian comfort food. When I asked my Mom last week what I should bring over to my friend's house right after she had a baby, she suggested this, saying "I made it for all of my friends after they had babies", so I continued the tradition here in Austin. Not only is it super simple ingredients and easy to make, but you can leave out the cream (as I did in the pics here) for a dairy option, and/or swap out the pasta for a gluten-free option (Trader Joes brown rice + quinoa fusilli would be the perfect replacement). Tasty and comforting - just what the doctor (or baby) ordered.
Cartwheels with Sausages, Cream and Tomato or 'Christmas Pasta'
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
16 oz. Italian turkey sausage (sweet, with fennel seeds) or Italian pork sausage
1- 28 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes with their juice; cut tomatoes
into small pieces
1/4 c. cream (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 lb. cartwheel pasta or other pasta, preferably a short shape like large shells or penne, cooked al dente
Slice the sausage into disks about 1/2” thick. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and garlic over medium heat, stirring often, until garlic is just golden. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, until the sausage is nicely browned. If you want to reduce the fat in the dish, pour off excess fat at this point.
Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20-30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened (if you’ve left the oil in the sauce, it will have separated and risen to the top). Add cream if using and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss sauce with the drained, hot pasta, and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking