This creamy pasta was the very best thing I ate in the month of December, which is saying something considering that it was a month that also contained at least a dozen new cookie recipes and Christmas dinner itself. But this dish, oh baby, this was the hands-down winner! This delightfully creamy pasta with savory apple, sage & sausage meatballs is rich yet somehow light, brightened by lemon zest and generous handfuls of fresh chives. And while it may not be a virtuous kale smoothie, it’s packed with spinach and fresh herbs and guaranteed to help chase away your dead-of-winter-blahs with some warm, carb-laden comfort: this is the One Winter Pasta To Rule Them All. It’s worth putting on your stretchy pants for, even in the land of New Year’s resolutions.
1 1/2 cups sour cream1/2 cup cream1/2 cup chopped chives1 tablespoon lemon zest1 teaspoon lemon juicesalt & pepper1/2 cup peeled & grated apple1 tablespoon fresh sage1 lb. mild Italian sausage1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot1 lb. rigatoni pasta (usually, one box)3 cups baby spinach leaves
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the sour cream and regular cream together.
2. Add chives, lemon zest and lemon juice, plus salt & pepper to taste, set mixture aside.
3. Squeeze grated apple between your hands to remove as much juice as possible beforehand.
4. Put fresh sage, Italian sausage and chopped shallot in a mixing bowl, add the grated apple, mix with your hands until just barely combined. Roll mixture into about two dozen meatballs the size of large marbles.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add half the meatballs, cook until lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside, do the same for the other half of the batch. Set all cooked meatballs aside.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with a handful of salt and add pasta. Cook until tender, then strain and return pasta to pot.
7. Add spinach and toss thoroughly while pasta is still warm, until leaves wilt and become soft.
8. Add cream mixture and meatballs, then serve.