¼ C extra virgin olive oil
4 oz spicy Italian sausage
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly slivered
2 (28 oz.) cans peeled and crushed tomatoes in juice
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. fennel seed
2 t salt
1 bunch baby spinach coarsely chopped
1/2 # spaghetti
1 ½ C grated fontina cheese
Fresh basil, Pecorino Romano for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare springform pan if using *see preparation sidebar
Prepare sauce: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add sausage and cook through until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked sausage from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally until very fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, red pepper flakes, fennel seed and salt. Bring up to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes or until tomatoes break down and sauce has thickened slightly.
Stir chopped spinach into sauce and cook until wilted. Add reserved sausage and cook an additional minute or two until heated through. Remove 1 C of sauce and set aside before proceeding with recipe.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
Prepare Torte: Combine remaining sauce, cooked spaghetti and 1 C grated fontina in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently until pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and cheese is evenly distributed throughout. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press down lightly to compact. Top with remaining fontina cheese and chopped fresh basil.
Bake Torte: Place torte on a rimmed baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Once rested, release springform clasp and carefully remove the pan and parchment paper collar. Stand back and admire your work! Slice and dust with Pecorino Romano cheese, passing reserved sauce at the table.
Chef’s note: I like to line my springform pan with a parchment collar to prevent sticking and ensure an easy release. It’s not 100% necessary, but the extra step guarantees an Instagram worthy presentation. To do it, on a sheet of parchment paper, trace around the bottom of your springform pan. Cut out the circle and set aside. Then cut a strip roughly 1” taller and 1” longer than the circumference of the interior of the pan and set aside. Lightly spray the interior of the pan with pan spray. Press the circular piece to the bottom of the pan. Then, carefully press the strip around the interior circumference overlapping the edge for complete coverage.