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Rigatoni With Tomato Sauce And Pepato

Darryl Joannides fell in love with Pepato, a soft Pecorino cheese studded with black peppercorns, during his college days in Perugia, Italy. To use it in a pasta dish, he looked for pasta tubes large enough to hold the pieces of cheese and a tomato sauce with enough spiciness to stand up to the pepper.

slideshow Fast Weekday Pastas

  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • One 28-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes with their juices
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces Pepato cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice


  1. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 3 minutes. add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of a spoon. Add the basil, oregano, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 45 minutes.
  2. Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain. Transfer to a large warmed serving bowl.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the black pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the sage and cook until heated through. Add the Pepato and cook over low heat until the cheese just begins to melt, about 1 minute. Immediately pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The tomato sauce can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Suggested Pairing

A Sangiovese is a perfect match for this peppery pasta dish.

Contributed By Published June 2000

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