Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spicy Italian Sausage Penne

Back-to-back pasta recipes on the blog this week! But I can't help it. I love pasta. It's so easy and versatile (and not to mention delicious). I have a couple of go-to pasta recipes (including my spaghetti alla puttanesca, which I can almost make in my sleep) but I also really like trying something new, or putting a new spin on an old favourite.

I use Italian sausages with pasta quite often, but I don't do anything particularly fancy or complicated with them. Usually I just break them up while frying them and then toss them in tomato sauce, often with artichoke hearts. I then saw Jamie Oliver's recipe for "Pregnant Jools's Pasta" in his cookbook Meals in Minutes, which is a different approach to sausage pasta than my usual. He puts the sausages through the food processor before frying it up, which gives the sausage a more silky texture, as opposed to the more rustic texture of my sausage pastas. He also makes the sauce with carrot, celery (which unfortunately I didn't have on hand) and diced tomatoes, which makes it taste fresh.

His cookbook is meant to allow someone to make an entire meal (usually an entrée, salad and a dessert) in 30 minutes. I am nowhere close to that. I find that even making the entrée took longer than 30 minutes (I think it took closer to 45 from start to finish), though I did find myself with quite a bit of stirring-and-watching time while making this, which I suppose I could have used to make the dessert and/or salad that he pairs with this meal.

However, since I am a bit of a whirlwind in the kitchen (in the least organized, messiest sense of the word), I am afraid of biting off more than I can chew. I'd rather get comfortable with the dishes first before trying to smash them all together in half an hour. It's interesting watching Jamie Oliver do it on TV though. He is so organized and streamlined in the kitchen! I suppose he should be, given that these are his recipes, but it's still quite interesting to watch. One day I hope to be able to cook that efficiently, without completely destroying the kitchen in the process.

I adapted Jamie Oliver's recipe and really liked how it turned out. While I love the heartiness of my usual sausage pasta, this version was lighter and fresher, which is not how I would have thought I'd describe a pasta dish made with Italian sausage. It would be a great meal to make in the summertime, when you don't feel like something too heavy but still have a craving for pasta and sausage. My husband told me multiple times how much he liked it, so I guess that means it's a winner!

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 4 large spicy Italian sausages
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 225 g of penne
  • 1-796 mL can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parmesan cheese to taste, grated

Grate the carrot and the onion in a food processor. (Like I said, I didn't have any celery, but if I did, I probably would have thrown a stalk into the food processor too. It tasted fine without it, but a little celery never hurts a pasta sauce.) Add the Italian sausages and oregano and process the contents until it is smooth, like a thick sausage paste (it's much more appetizing than it sounds, I promise).

Boil the penne in a large pot of well-salted water.

In a large pan, add the olive oil. When the pan and oil are hot, add the sausage mixture. Allow the sausage to brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If your pan is not big enough to hold all of the sausage, brown it in batches to keep it from overcrowding the pan and boiling rather than browning. The sweetness of the carrots mutes the spiciness of the Italian sausages, so if you like more heat in your dishes, consider adding some red pepper flakes while you cook the sausage.

When the sausage is nicely browned, drain any excess fat if necessary. If you cooked the sausage in batches, return all of the sausage to the pan. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice and toss in a bay leaf. Simmer on low, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

When the penne is cooked, reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.

If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce. Mix the sauce into the pasta. Depending on how saucy you like your pasta, you may have some leftover sauce. Grate Parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.


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  1. This looks so good, I love pasta also. I recently made a dish called "Pizza in the pot" and so good, easy and I also made it using sausage instead of the pepperoni....yummy andi

    1. Pizza in the pot - sounds intriguing! Love the choice of using sausage instead of pepperoni, even though I love both! Thanks for visiting!

  2. This looks like something the guys in my family would like. I am pinning it to try :)

    1. If you try it, I hope you (and the guys) enjoy it! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Yum, your pasta sounds so delicious!

    1. Thanks! This one is definitely a keeper. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. This Sausage Penne looks so delicious! I'd love for you to link up a few posts at my weekend link party@The Weekend re-Treat! on The Best Blog Recipes if you haven't already!

    Hope to see you there!


    1. Thanks for commenting! I've linked up at the re-Treat before and I'll keep linking up. :) I'm glad you stopped by!

  5. This looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    We may have met by chance...but we become friends by choice.

  6. This was really great! I made it as listed, except I used turkey italian sausage. It was really a great meal - and makes lots!! Thanks for the yummy recipe - going to put on my Pinterest for others to see!

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! I haven't tried it with turkey sausage yet, but that sounds delicious and I'll have to keep it in mind - it would be a bit healthier change up from the pork sausage we usually buy. Thanks so much for your feedback!


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