cluster of three tomatoes on the vineSometimes it feels like my whole life revolves around food – eating, cooking, shopping, planning, blogging, reading, and sometimes even dreaming about it – so much so that I can’t imagine what it would be like to have none, but being hungry is a way of life for one in five children in the U.S.A. That’s a staggering statistic. Literally millions of American kids have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

The good news is that Romano’s Macaroni Grill has partnered with No Kid Hungry to held put an end to childhood hunger. As part of that initiative, they’ve contacted some members of the blogging community and asked us to post about our favourite Italian meal, share a photo, or pass on a recipe (tagging those posts with #macgrillgive). For every blog post, Macaroni Grill will help No Kid Hungry connect a child to up to 500 meals.


I’m  happy to help them out.

Here’s a fast and easy pasta recipe that’s perfect for those busy weeknights when you want to get dinner on the table in a hurry without sacrificing flavour. It’s perfectly proportioned for two servings but easily doubles to feed four. It’s versatile too. If you prefer a milder dish, use sweet Italian Sausage instead of hot. Swap turkey sausage for pork if you like. Use whatever pasta sauce or tomato sauce you have on hand. Homemade is best of course, but there are plenty of good prepared sauces out there. (My favourite is Mario Batali Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce.)

Rigatoni with Hot Italian Sausage and Bacon

a bowl of rigatoni with meat sauce and parmesan cheese
Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Bacon †
Recipe Type: Main
Serves: 2
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 6 oz Hot Italian sausage
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce or pasta sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 oz rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Cut the onion in half vertically. Place one half cut-side down and slice lengthwise, as thinly as possible.
  2. Cut the bacon crosswise into lardons.
  3. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Return the pan to the stove.
  4. Remove the sausages from their casings and crumble into the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely brown, about 3 minutes. Drain the fat. Add cooked meat to the cooked onion and bacon mixture. Set aside.
  5. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the red wine and de-glaze by scraping the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits. Let the wine simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low and return the onion, bacon and sausage mixture to the pan. Cover and simmer the sauce over low heat for about 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Cook the rigatoni according to package directions. Drain.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine.
  9. Serve in warm bowls topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

If you’d like to get involved in the #macgrillgive campaign, there are several ways you can help:

  1. Donate $2 towards No Kid Hungry at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, receive $5 Off your next visit.
  2. Share an artist inspired image from the Mac Grill Give Facebook Gallery. For every share, they’ll connect a kid with a meal.
  3. Tag an Instagram photo or tweet of your Mac Grill experience with #macgrillgive. For every tag, they’ll help connect a kid with a meal.
†Adapted from a recipe for rigatoni with sausage, bacon, and onions in Cooking for One: A Seasonal Guide to the Pleasure of Preparing Delicious Meals for Yourself by Chefs Mark and Lisa Erickson, presented by The Culinary Institute of America


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Mac Grill’s 1 Million Meals: Rigatoni with Hot Italian Sausage and Bacon

by The Culinary Travel Guide time to read: 2 min