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Sausage and Cabbage Pasta

So I couldn't leave well enough alone.  My brother gave me this recipe for this really great pasta, sausage, and cabbage dish.  It uses fontina cheese. The cheese melts and it makes you think that it's a cream sauce.  It's really good but I had to play around with it a little.

First I had to make fresh ricotta. Now I know this sounds intimidating but believe me you can have fresh ricotta in about 20 minutes. I used this recipe but you know, of course, I adapted it to what I had in the refrigerator. Here's what I used:

1/2 gallon 2% milk
2 c half and half
1 c low fat plain yogurt
2 tsps vinegar
1 tsp salt

Basically you pour the ingredients into a pot and it will start to look like this after a few minutes:

Don't pay attention to the shadow of my head in this picture ;-)

Then it will start to separate after about 15 minutes on medium heat and will look like this:

Curds & Whey (so tempting to make a Miss Muffet joke)
Then you strain it for a few minutes. It seems like such a waste to throw out all that whey so this time I saved some.  I poured it into 1 c containers and froze it.  I've heard that you can use it to replace the water that you would use while making bread and it gives it a nice sour flavor. I'll have to try that another time and report back.

Ricotta draining.


Whey

OK-onward to the pasta recipe now.

1lb pasta (I used penne)
12 oz sausage (I used sun-dried tomato chicken sausage that is already cooked. You can use regular sausage-just remove it from the casing)
2 c ricotta
4 oz fontina
4 c shredded cabbage (Napa or Savoy)
1/2 c pasta water
1 c sun-dried tomatoes
salt/pepper to taste
I did too fine of a shred this time around
Boil water for pasta.  Place sausage in skillet (if using cooked sausage cut sausage into chunks, if using raw sausage remove from casings and break up while cooking).
When sausage is browned, add shredded cabbage.  
Add salt to water and cook pasta.
Add sun-dried tomatoes to sausage/cabbage mixture. Then add fontina cheese. Add a little of the pasta water - you might not need the whole 1/2 cup.
When pasta is cooked, place in serving bowl.  Add ricotta and cabbage/sausage mixture. Stir until combined.

Now you might be looking at those sun-dried tomatoes and thinking they look a little different. You would be right.  I made them with plum tomatoes from the garden and froze them way back in the summer. I was saving them for when the weather was so beastly and we were just begging for Spring. Well I've reached that point.  Here is the recipe.  They are so easy to make. I usually make them on a weekend when I know I'll be just around the house. They do take a few hours but they are so worth it.  You will thank yourself in the middle of winter.

If you want to make the original recipe, just leave out the ricotta and tomatoes and up the fontina to about 8-12 oz and there you go.  The adaptation was good but the original is equally as good.

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