Monday, September 10, 2007

Presto Pasta Night: Back in the Saddle Again


I'm back in the kitchen!!!!

After what seems like forever, I have finally finished unpacking all the boxes, that I know of anyways, labeled "kitchen". There may be one or two more boxes lurking in a closet I haven't uncovered but if there is, I haven't figured out that I'm missing a critical pan or utensil yet.

My new kitchen isn't as big as my old kitchen and somehow, when I was looking at the apartment, I missed that it didn't have a full set of cabinets (more on that in a later post). But I adore the layout, the long two level counter space, and most of all the track lighting. My old kitchen was dark and the lights were obviously installed by someone who never cooked (they were, trust me..) because all the lights in that kitchen were above and behind me trying to light the workspace vs over the workspace as my track lights in the new kitchen are installed. The other bonus of track lighting in the kitchen is if a light isn't the right place over the counter, I can stand on my step stool and move it!

Anyways, I'm back in the kitchen and I was so excited last night when I made the first full dinner in the new kitchen that I giggled, gushed, and chatted with LB, who was under foot exploring new cubbyholes and hoping for a morsel of something a cat would like to fall onto the floor, all the time I was dicing and slicing.

One of the other things I've missed is being able to participate in Ruth of Once Upon a Feast's wildly successful Presto Pasta Night event. In case you haven't heard about this fun filled night of Fusulli, Farfalle, and Fettuccini, as well as any other type of noodle/pasta you can think of, every week Ruth asks food bloggers to email her with quick and not so quick posts and recipes that use pasta. Doesn't matter what else you use with the pasta or how you serve the pasta, you have to use pasta in the dish.

Since we are fast nearing the end of the tomato season, I had stopped at the Westport Farmers Market yesterday, after the gym and Starbucks, to pick up some fresh tomatoes and a few other fruits and vegetables for my week. When I got to the market, most the big tomatoes were already gone but one of the farmers had these nice plump Amish Paste tomatoes. They were stunning and I knew exactly what I was going to do with the tomatoes when I got them home. I was going to make a simple sauce with the fresh sweet Italian sausage I picked up from my local butcher shop on Saturday and serve it over the fresh fettuccine I had in the fridge.

I started with the same method for the tomatoes I used when I made the Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Sausage Ragu for the cookbook spotlight on Faith Heller Willinger’s new cookbook “Adventures of an Italian Food Lover“, chopped tomatoes in a large pan with a dash of olive oil and garlic.

I loved how easy this sauce was to make and the taste was all tomato and garlic. I even remember thinking when I made it that the next time I would combine the sausage with the sauce. This time, I not only added the sausage but I added some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a dash of rosemary and some fresh basil to the mix.

This sauce is so easy and quick, that if you are using dried pasta, you should start your water to boil before you start the sauce otherwise the sauce will be done way before the pasta is cooked al dente. Best of all, making this whole dish, pasta and all, takes less then 30 minutes making it perfect for a busy night. (hum...I sound like that overly perky tv "food" show host don't I??!!) And just to make it even better, the sauce has such a wonderful taste, people will think you slaved all day over the stove.

But I won't tell if you don't tell...

Presto Sausage Pasta Sauce
Makes 2-3 servings of sauce

1lb fresh sweet Italian sausage
6 medium sized sauce tomatoes, chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 2 cloves)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp rosemary
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
dash salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

In non-stick skillet, brown and chop up into medium chunks, sausage. Cook until almost done. Drain and set aside. In large skillet, on medium high heat, heat olive oil and toss in garlic for 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they soften, turn down heat to medium and add back in the sausage. Continue letting tomatoes cook until a chunky sauce consistency, about 7 - 10 mintues. Add rosemary and salt and let tomatoes further reduce and thicken, about 5 minutes. Add in basil and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir. Taste and add further season to taste with salt, basil, or rosemary. Finish with fresh cracked pepper.

Serve over cooked pasta or on top of crusty pieces of bread

Ironic Moment of this Meal: When I finished this sauce and sat down to watch a little Food Network, I was treated to Mario Batali and the Parmigiano-Reggiano Battle on Iron Chef America.