Italian Sausage Rigatoni and a Field Trip to Lagana Foods

We recently went to Seattle to visit my best friend Kaela. Kaela and I have been friends since 6th grade. She is the friend who knows everything about you, the one who will call you out on your B.S., the friend you don’t have to entertain or clean your house for, the friend you don’t see nearly enough but always pick up right where you left off like no time has passed. Everyone needs a friend like this.

When we were young we pretty much lived together on the weekends, alternating from one parents house to another. I’m not sure if my mom just gave us free reign in the kitchen or if we were hungry and fending for ourselves, but these were the weekends Kaela and I learned to cook.

Sometimes we would find a recipe and try to follow it but most of the time we would make crazy, stir fry, saimin creations. What this involved was defrosting and cutting up chicken (obviously before the great fear of salmonella), a package of top ramen, and a little of every condiment we could find that had asian writing on it.

We still carry on this tradition, although I like to think our palates are a bit more refined now. (At least something is more refined.) When Kaela comes to visit we will guaranteed have a “let’s pretend the weather is bad and cook everything in the house” day. Good times.

Kaela, along with her partner Ethan Stowell, created an artisan pasta company called Lagana Foods and I got to go on a field trip there.

Here’s a picture of Kaela teaching my daughter Leila how the pasta machine works. This is not a picture of Auntie Kaela making pasta out of children as someone so cleverly commented. (Funny though)





















What’s special about Lagana Foods pasta is it’s made from 2 ingredients. Semolina flour and water. 2 ingredients that you can pronounce. I like that rule with food, if you can’t pronounce it then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Unless of course you can’t pronounce it because it’s Italian, then eat away!

Secondly, the pasta is bronze cut.  Bronze cut pasta is rougher and more porous than your commercial teflon cut pasta which comes out smooth and shiny. The benefit to the rustic bronze cut pasta is that your sauce will hold to it in a way that makes teflon pasta jealous.

So if you live in Washington or Oregon, you can buy yourself some Lagana pasta. It seriously smells like Italy.

As for me, I was given a huge bag of this fantastic, fresh pasta to carry home to Oahu on the airplane. I was halfway across the pacific ocean when I realized I left it in the mini fridge of our hotel. I like to think the housekeepers had a huge pasta party with it. That makes me feel a little better.

So you are probably thinking, what’s in the picture above? That’s Safeway’s Barilla pasta. Teflon cut, 7 ingredients, 2 that I can pronounce. If you live in Hawaii that will probably be your only option until the day Lagana Foods expands across the Pacific. Kaela- we anxiously await your arrival!

Italian Sausage Rigatoni

Rigatoni (the best you can find wherever you live)

4 links Chicken, Turkey, or Pork Italian Sausage (remove casing)

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 small onion diced

1 28oz can whole tomatoes (Lightly pureed)

2 T tomato paste

2 T olive oil

Feta, Kalamata olives and flat leaf parsley to garnish

Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Heat a large pan and add the olive oil. Add your Italian sausage and start breaking it up. You want to get a nice caramelization on it. Add your onions and continue cooking over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add your garlic and stir around for just one minute. If you happen to have a bottle of open red wine nearby, a little splash to deglaze the pan would be an excellent idea. Add your pureed tomatoes. I like to buy whole tomatoes and puree them myself because I find the quality and taste is much better than pre-crushed can tomatoes.

The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how long you let the sauce cook and whether you cover the pan or not. Basically if your sauce looks loose and watery, add tomato paste.

Cook your pasta to al dente and right before you drain it reserve a cup of that magic salty, starchy water the pasta was cooking in. That way if you added too much tomato paste earlier you can thin down your sauce a bit.

Add the pasta to the sauce and gently toss. Put it in a big family style bowl and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley, feta cheese, kalamata olives and black pepper.