Continuing my general hibernation trend, I made pasta twice this week. And no small quantities either; it’s like a pasta factory around here. Wrong time to start a health diet, family!
One recipe was entirely Americanized: heavy, gloopy, cheesy, and altogether too white. I won’t include it here for fear that I would be captivated by the nice photos and indulgent ingredients and want to make it again. But luckily the other new recipe was gloriously, legitimately Italian (at least according to my broke-college-student dining experiences in Tuscany a few years ago). A small portion is hearty, filling, complex, and deeply satisfying, without any of the residual heaviness or guilt. Unless, of course, you eat several small portions.
This real Italian pasta is adapted from Bon Appetit, via my superhero SmittenKitchen, and I’ll include it here because I halved the quantities to serve 4 (and since there were only 2 of us eating, froze the rest of the sauce sans cheese). Also, of all the stages of cooking, the step “go the store, buy the right ingredients” might seem like the most straightforward, but I never, ever manage it without mishap. In this case, I forgot the fresh basil and oregano, and had to pinch-hit with 2 tb of dried Italian seasoning. Not the same, but it was still amazing, so I imagine if one did have the admirable preparedness to purchase everything in the ingredient list, the end result could be 3% more divine.
Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Adapted from Eccoqui Restaurant in Bernardsville, NJ via Bon Appetit
Makes 4 servings.
1 pound spicy or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, crumbled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped fresh basil + 1/4 cup, reserved
4 tb chopped fresh oregano
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup red wine, dry white wine, or vermouth
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes, diced, if in season)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 pound fresh pappardelle pasta (or any wide, flat noodles), or make your own if you are very ambitious!
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. Saute sausage in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until brown, about 12 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl.
2. Add oil to drippings in pot. Add mushrooms and onions; saute until tender and brown, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in chopped basil, oregano, and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add wine; cook until almost absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and crushed tomatoes; cover and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 25 minutes.
4. Add diced tomatoes and butter; simmer until tomatoes are soft, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)
5. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain well; return to pot.
6. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup reserved basil; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to serving dish, and serve remaining grated cheese on the side.