Ode to Tuscany

Summary: Who doesn't love Tuscan food?! This is an homage to that region and the simple beauty of good Italian pasta.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 3 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1/4 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 wedge preserved lemon (~2 tablespoons), diced
  • 1 best-quality sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, meat diced
  • 1/4 head radicchio, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 bunch Lacinato (aka Dino or Tuscan kale, or other) kale, center ribs removed, leaves washed and chopped
  • 1 large knob Mascarpone (~1/4+ c)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted
  • more olive oil
  • 250 grams Rigatoni (or your fave pasta)


In a stockpot (I use a 4-quart for two people), heat water and a generous dash of kosher salt to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a 10″ skillet, heat 2 tablespoons (or a nice pour) extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add onion slices and stir to coat. After 2 minutes, add garlic slivers and stir. Sprinkle very generously with kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium-low.

In a small skillet, toast fennel seeds. When toasted and cool, grind into the quarter-cup of olive oil, and let sit.

To the large skillet with the onions/garlic, add the preserved lemon and stir. After 1 minute, add sausage. Stir and cook, browning over your low heat.

Check your pasta water, drink some wine.

When the sausage is almost cooked, add the radicchio and kale. Stir until wilted, cover and reduce heat to low.

Your water should be boiling now. Cook your pasta. 2 minutes (or so) before it should be done, scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta.

In the pasta pot, put the drained pasta, the greens mixture, a bit of the reserved cooking water, and the Mascarpone. Stir over medium heat until the water is absorbed and the Mascarpone is incorporated, adding more salt and/or cooking water as needed per your taste and desired sauciness.

When done, dump into a serving bowl and drizzle generously with the toasted fennel oil that’s been sitting around getting yummy. Shaving Pecorino or Parmesan on top now is NOT a bad idea.

Drink some more wine, love this pasta.