Pasta with Sausage and Tomatoes

Pasta with Sausage and Tomatoes

I wanted to make a pasta dish Sunday for dinner and since I had just recently made and frozen a large batch of Italian sausage, Sandy suggested I defrost a few and make pasta with sausage. Great idea! I used sweet sausage for this but if you want to go spicier you can use hot sausage or increase the amount of red pepper flakes. Pasta with Sausage and Tomatoes Recipe Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour and 5 min Serves 4-6 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium sweet onion, diced 1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat (stuffing from 4 links) 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes salt to taste 1 35oz can imported Italian tomatoes 6 fresh basil leaves 1 pound mezzi rigatoni Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sautè, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sausage meat, red pepper and salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally until sausage is browned approximately 10 minutes. In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands then add them with their juices to the pan. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and let simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes. At the very end of cooking, tear 2 of the basil leaves into pieces with your hands and stir into the sauce. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the mezzi rigatoni. Cook uncovered over high heat until al dente. Drain the...

Fresh Italian Sausage

I have been making my own sausage for a few years now, ever since I picked up the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated) by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  Charcuterie is probably my favorite cookbook, even though the only recipes from the book I have actually made are several of the fresh sausages (the Spicy Roasted Poblano Sausage is awesome) and smoked bacon.  Those few recipes, however, have given me immense satisfaction, and I am always picking it up, flipping through it and planning on eventually branching out to more advanced projects like dry cured sausages, pancetta and bresaola. My Fresh Italian Sausage recipe is actually a hybrid of the Sweet Italian Sausage recipe in Charcuterie and the Fresh Italian Sausage recipe from another book in my library, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated) by Paul Bertolli.  I like the combination of herbs and spices in Bertolli’s recipe but use the ratio of meat to fat and the measurements of the ingredients the two have in common from Charcuterie.  Even though cayenne pepper is an ingredient in this recipe, I still consider it to be a “sweet” sausage, because the cayenne is not enough to make it hot, it just adds a tiny bit of spice.  There several keys to making a good sausage that both books share.  The first key is keeping your meat and fat cold.  If it gets too warm during the process, the fat will separate from the meat and you will end up with a crumbly sausage.  Tips that I picked up from both...
Puglia: A Culinary Memoir

Puglia: A Culinary Memoir

The first book in the new Italy’s Food Culture series of cookbooks, translated from the original Italian, by Oronzo Editions, Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Italy’s Food Culture), covers a regional cuisine that I would venture is not familiar to many Americans.  Personally, I did not know much about the cooking of Puglia.  Being a bread baker, I was familiar with the two famous breads from the region, Pane Pugliese and Pane di Altamura, but that was extent of my knowledge, before reading this volume.  The author, Maria Pignatelli Ferrante, does a comprehensive job of chronicling what the preface refers to as “the miracle of the cooking of Puglia.” The cooking of Puglia started out as “cucina povera”, or peasant cooking, but has evolved into a substantial cuisine that still retains the character of the region.  Referred to as “Italy’s California”, the land in Puglia is bountiful, and the cooking is rooted in the crops that are grown locally. In keeping with that, there is a big emphasis in this book on vegetable dishes.  If you are an eggplant fan there is a treasure trove of great eggplant recipes, such as Baked Eggplant with Olives,  Eggplant “Meatballs”, Eggplant Mushroom-Style, and one of the recipes we are featuring, Eggplant Rollups. While vegetables are the star here, they are not the only reason to read this book.  There are some great pasta dishes, especially for the typical pasta of the region, Orecchiette, including Oricchiette with Brocoli Rabe.  Due to the prevalence of olive oil in the region, there is a large variety of fried foods in Puglia, which gives us an amazing chapter on...