2 cups strained, whole canned tomatoes (preferably Italian tomatoes)
1 pound malloreddus (or penne or fusilli)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
¾ pound mild Italian sausage, casing removed and sausage roughly chopped
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, divided
1. In a medium bowl, roughly crush the Italian tomatoes using your fingers.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, following the package instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking water.
3. While the pasta water comes to a boil, start the sauce: In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are tender and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the sausage, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid in the pan evaporates and the sausage browns, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, saffron, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the reserved pasta cooking water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the sauce is thick, about 35 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
4. Add the pasta to the sauce along with ½ cup of the Pecorino. Toss to combine and divide among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino before serving.