When Barry Koslow took over the kitchen at Tallula in April, he knew he wanted to have three fresh pasta dishes always on the menu. This bowl of cavatelli with garlicky sausage, bitter escarole, and piquant chili flakes is the only one that’s never changed. Koslow says the kitchen makes so much cavatelli—about ten pounds on the weekends—that he has to buy a new cavatelli machine every month.
If you can’t find cavatelli (short, rolled tubes of pasta), you can use garganelli (an angled penne) or orecchiette (which look like tiny bowls), all shapes that Koslow likes for their texture and the way they carry the sauce. Choose your sausage wisely, too. Look for veal or pork, and avoid anything that’s lean. For a dish this simple, Koslow says, “timing is everything, so make sure to have all the ingredients ready and close by.”
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Cavatelli with Veal Sausage, Escarole, and Chili Flakes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces veal sausage, removed from casing
14 ounces cavatelli pasta (precooked al dente)
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup escarole, cut into chiffonade
2 lemons, juiced
Salt to taste
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or grated
Warm a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the pan begins to smoke, add the sausage in large chunks. It’s important to let the sausage brown, so don’t stir it. Gently try to flip the pieces after 2 to 3 minutes, then brown the other side of the sausage. Add the cooked pasta and toss, then add the butter and gently stir it into the pan. Add the chili flakes and escarole. When the butter begins to foam and turn brown, which will take about 2 to 3 minutes, add the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, and garnish with the cheese.
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