cavatelli with spicy sausage & sun-dried tomatoes

This is the post for my little brother who’s off being a college kid.  It’s weird not having him around all the time — now I know how he felt when I went off to school!  For his last home-cooked meal of the summer I made a pasta dish that has become one of my family’s favorites.  It definitely ranks in my top five favorite dishes.  The original version of this dish is one of Giada DeLaurentis’ recipes that I found on

I love that you cook the sausage in the oil that the jarred sun-dried tomatoes are packed in.  It just adds something extra to the already spicy and flavorful sausage.

Giada uses fusilli pasta, but the ricotta cavatelli is one my favorite changes I’ve made to the dish.  If you haven’t tried cavatelli you MUST.  Mike introduced this pasta to me because it is one of his favorites.  It’s so rich and tender – it’s now one of my favorites too!  If I hadn’t decided to make this dish for him one day, I wouldn’t have thought to change the pasta.  So this addition to the recipe is thanks to Mike!  Most grocery stores carry frozen bags, but I’ve also gotten fresh cavatelli at Italian specialty stores.


Cavatelli with Spicy Sausage & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 6


  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen cavatelli
  • 1 7.5 oz. jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes sliced, oil reserved
  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed
  • salt and pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausages and cook until browned, breaking up the meat into bite-sized pieces. (I usually do this step by squeezing the sausage meat out of the casing into the skillet and breaking it up with a wooden spoon once the meat starts to brown.) Transfer the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

This is usually the best point to add the cavatelli to the pot of boiling water. Cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, about 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta and 5-7 minutes for frozen. Drain the pasta.

In the same skillet from which you removed the sausage, add the garlic and sauté until tender.  Then, add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Raise the heat to medium-high and boil until the sauce reduces slightly.

Add the pasta, sausage, basil, and parsley to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mozzarella right before serving so that the cheese does not become too stringy.

Serve with grated Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentis via

How I eat it: with a hot and crusty loaf of bread on the side.