- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 ounces California Dried Figs, stems removed and chopped, about 8 figs
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 12 ounces ground Italian sausage
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- 8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a deep 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add the chopped onions, garlic, and figs. Sauté until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar and boil until almost evaporated.
Add the crumbled Italian sausage, fennel seeds, and minced rosemary. Sauté until the sausage is cooked, about 7 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes. Slowly cook for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Bring the water with the salt to boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add cooked pasta to the skillet and gently stir to coat it with sauce.
Distribute tablespoons of the ricotta cheese over the pasta. Sprinkle with the grated mozzarella and minced Italian parsley. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pasta begins to bubble.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with more parsley, if desired.
Serve your favorite Basil Pine Nut Pesto on the side.
We like to bake this pasta in a well-seasoned cast iron pan, but you can also use a 9×13 baking dish. The sauce can be prepared ahead of time and the ingredients combined just before baking.