Cavatelli with Duck Sausage and Pesto Rosso

Chef Alex Tubero shares his recipe for pasta with homemade duck sausage topped with a piquant red pesto.

By Alex Tubero
Mar 27, 2022
30 Minutes
2 Servings

Chef Alex Tubero of Amali in New York City is full of pasta inspiration. If you are looking to try something new for your pasta nights, this take on pesto pasta with sausage is sure to be a hit. Tubero uses the lesser-known pesto rosso, made with sweet piquillo peppers, two kinds of nuts, and olives, along with the typical basil and parsley. The homemade sausage is made from duck instead of pork and features fennel seed and chili flake. At Amali, Chef Tubero uses only fresh pasta. You can source fresh cavatelli from Eataly or he suggests dry orecchiette.

Cook your pasta in your Pasta Insert Set before transferring it to a Stainless Clad Saucier filled with the sauce. This will give your dish that restaurant-quality silkiness that comes from letting the pasta finish cooking in the sauce and adding in some starchy water to bring it all together.  You will have leftovers of both the duck sausage and the pesto rosso, which will each keep for a week in the fridge, but can either be frozen or pared down.

Cavatelli with Duck Sausage and Pesto Rosso

Chef Alex Tubero shares his recipe for pasta with homemade duck sausage topped with a piquant red pesto.

Alex Tubero

30 Minutes
2 Servings
  • For the Duck Sausage
  • 1 pound ground duck
  • 1 teaspoon pink curing salt (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • For the Pesto Rosso
  • 2 cups piquillo peppers
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 pint good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Assembly
  • 1 cup fresh cavatelli or dried orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup of duck sausage
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup pesto rosso
  • 1/2 cup shredded pecorino
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges to season

    For the duck sausage, mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cooking. You can find pink curing salt here.


    To make the pesto rosso, grind all ingredients, except for olive oil, in a mortar and pestle. Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture until it is well combined until it has the consistency of a pesto. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Make sure the sauce isn’t too blended. If the sauce is too thick add more olive oil until desired consistency is achieved.


    Place Pasta Insert Set over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Chef Tubero suggests that your water should taste like a well-seasoned soup rather than the ocean. Add your fresh cavatelli and cook cavatelli for approximately 7 minutes until cooked through. If using dry pasta, follow package instructions, cooking the orecchiette a little shy of the recommended al dente time. Remove the Pasta Insert, leaving behind the pasta water.


    While pasta is cooking add a tablespoon of olive oil to your Saucier and place on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add duck sausage and break it up with the back of a Wooden Spoon or a spatula. The sauce should be smooth like a Bolognese.


    Once sausage is fully cooked, add 1 cup of reserved pasta water and butter. When pasta is nearly done cooking add it to your sauce with the pesto rosso and mix well. Cook pasta in sauce for one minute, stirring to prevent pasta from sticking to the pan.


    If your sauce seems too dry, add a splash of pasta water. Cooking the pasta in the sauce is very important to incorporate the sauce in the cavatelli and to distribute the starch from the pasta into the sauce. Cook until the pasta is done and remove from heat.


    Finish the pasta with half of the fresh pecorino, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix vigorously and plate, topping with the remaining pecorino and serve with a slice of lemon.