Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best Pasta Ever

I don't know what's come over me, but I've been obsessed with making pasta. It's like a light has gone off in my head that spaghetti and meatballs, while wonderful, is not all there is to Italian cuisine, er, should I say pasta cuisine since pasta isn't all there is to Italian cuisine. A couple weeks ago, I shared my recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara and now today I have to share yet another pasta recipe, which I am sure must already exist somewhere in Italy because there's no way this deliciousness hasn't been replicated elsewhere.

My pasta epiphany occurred the other night because I was starving and didn't feel like waiting 30 minutes for the huge Italian pork sausages from Bradley Farm to cook through. Instead, I removed the casings and sauteed them, mincing them up as I went, with a little onion. Then I looked over at a dejected nearly used up bottle of Pinot Noir sitting on my table and thought, hmmm, let's pour that in too. Oh, and why not add those three beefsteak tomatoes sitting next to the wine? The result was a wonderful, wonderful thing that surprised the heck out of me. Enjoy!

Pork Sausage and Red Wine Meat Sauce Over Pasta
(This new fave requires very little time and produces quite a lot of flavor. It's best served over a pasta like large rigatoni or peppardelle that can hold a meaty sauce.)

What You'll Need:

1 medium onion chopped
1 pound Italian Pork Sausage out of its casing
3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes diced (or a large can diced tomatoes)
About a cup of red wine (or more if you like)
12 leaves of fresh basil cut into very thin strips

1 pound of sturdy pasta like rigatoni or peppardelle

For the pasta: Set a large pot of salted water over a high heat to boil. When it comes to a boil add the pasta and cook until al dente.

For the meat sauce: Place a large frying pan over a medium high heat, add a splash of olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion, stir and cook until soft. Add the sausage and break it up into little bits and make sure it mixes thoroughly with the onions. Once the sausage is nearly cooked through add the wine and tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid had reduced and the sauce has thickened up. Turn off the heat and add the strips of basil, stirring just until mixed.

To serve, place the pasta on a platter and top with the meat sauce. Buon Appetito!

Approximate Dinner Cost
• Groceries - $14.00
• Leftovers – We got 4 servings out of this for $3.50 a serving.

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  1. This sounds yummy and easy for a week night meal. Sometimes I just feel like eating pasta--even on the most humid summer nights! I love cooking with wine, but i always seem to see more white wine recipes than red. What are the best types of red wines to cook with? Do you have other favorite red wine recipes?

  2. Do you have any tips for not killing your basil plant or other herbs?

  3. Thanks! I do have some more red wine recipes, mainly cozy wintery dishes, but I am always experimenting and will post whatever blows my mind!

    As for how not to kill your plants?!?! I wish I knew! Any suggestions? I'm down from a windowsill full of plants to just one basil plant that's walking a fine line between life and death.

  4. I think you have just truly discovered what Italian cooking is about: simplicity. Italian food is like Legos. The ingredients stand alone but can be combined in so many different ways their whole is somehow always greater than their parts. Yours is a great dish and I've made it a number of times with my own invented recipe which includes low sodium chicken broth (reduced by about half with all ingredients save the pasta, of course) and peas (keep em frozen and throw them in when you take it off the heat). For the final touch, squeeze fresh lemon juice onto each serving. Yummy and thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Wow! Thank you! I am so very flattered!

    And thanks for your additions! Peas are always a winner with baby girl so I think I'll definitely throw some of those in next time.

    And the chicken broth, did you substitute that in for the wine or combine it? Always looking for new ideas!

  6. You can certainly do a combination, but if you used broth you'd have a lighter dish but still with a real depth of flavor. The wine, bet it red or white, does add acidity, so I'd highly recommend replacing it with a dash of vinegar or, personally, fresh lemon juice at the end of cooking brightens it up and cuts a little of the fat (and also gives you a rounded profile: salty/sweet/sour). Note that once you start using chicken broth (I find that beef and veg always have this mild metallic taste to them) you will probably use it all the time because of the neutral but deep flavor it lends to everything. Oh, one more tip: when you're reducing, time the pasta so that it is slightly more al dente than usual and let it finish in the sauce. It will absorb the remaining liquid, then add some reserved pasta water if it gets too thick.

    p.s. I always keep a pack of frozen sausages in the freezer for this quick meal. It also works really well with ground shrimp (add your own italian sausage seasoning) although you have to add that in the last two minutes of cooking the sauce.

  7. Ok, so I'm hungry at work and now thinking about the perfect last minute snack with everything good in the world that should be shared: a really good baguette (find a real bakery), some Robusto (whole foods always has it but don't buy their crappy baguettes), fresh basil, lots of fresh black pepper and lemon juice.

    Prep:Cut baguette into sandwich sized chunks and cut lengthwise. Place cheese on both sides. Place in hot oven until cheese melts (don't caramelize and you don't want the bread too crunchy!). Burn fingers removing bread and cheese which have now combined into something heavenly on their own (you will smell when it is ready - trust me); resist temptation to eat; place fresh basil on one, squeeze lots of fresh lemon, grind a ton of black pepper; place other melted side on top and press down to mash it together for easier eating. Pour wine (white acidic/minerally). Eat and drink, then look at remaining ingredients, feel like a pig, but make more anyway.

  8. I'm going to try that! I love chicken stock so much. I totally agree that it adds depth of flavor and another dimension that water really can't achieve. I cook rice and cous cous in it all the time. Thanks so much for your suggestions!

    That baguette snack is making my stomach rumble. Going to the farmer's market to restock tomorrow, but right now I am woefully low on supplies and dying for a lovely sandwich just like you described!!!

  9. This sounds delicious! Thank you for linking it!

  10. I seldom eat pasta but this lovely, mouth-watering picture makes me feel like cooking right now.

  11. You can't go wrong with pasta! I made a spinach Alfredo sauce the other night - pureed spinach with cream, it was a green beauty!



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