Rigatoni with Spicy, Creamy Marinara

Rigatoni with Spicy, Creamy Marinara

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes*
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 – 3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb rigatoni pasta
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups half and half
3 oz finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into small strips
3/4 cup fresh or frozen and thawed baby peas
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and saute until tender, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Add in crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes – 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly.
Cook pasta to al dente according to directions listed on package. Meanwhile, in a separate medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in half and half. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring constantly (mixture should be thick). Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour creamy white sauce into red sauce and stir to blend. Drain cooked pasta, return to pot along with cooked chicken and toss with sauce mixture. Place over low heat and let cook several minutes, allowing sauce time to absorb into noodles. Serve warm garnished with peas, additional parmesan and more red pepper flakes as desired.
*If you wanted to make this recipe quicker, you could reduce the amount of crushed tomatoes to 2 1/2 cups (instead of the whole can) and add in 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp of tomato paste to thicken the sauce without have to simmer so long. I’d then reduce the simmer time to 15 minutes just to give the herbs time to meld.

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