Monday, September 19, 2016

Pasta with Italian Sausage

I started to do the occasional post on food when I was vacationing in Madrid back in May. The food was just so wonderful that I had to tell you about it! Then, last month, I did a post on roasting a chicken with a new recipe I had discovered. So now I want to do another food post. This one is a recipe I have been making for a long, long time. It was originally inspired by a recipe from a book by Umberto Menghi, the Vancouver chef who had several Italian restaurants at one point. I really learned to cook Italian from his books. I am at the point where I almost never go to Italian restaurants because what I can do at home is better. So here is one of my most successful recipes. This is quite a simple recipe, but I have modified it considerably from the original.

Pasta with Italian Sausage


One Italian sausage per person
One good-sized Roma tomato per person
Basil (I used dried, but use fresh, chopped up, if you have it)
Extra virgin olive oil
About a quarter pound of pasta per person, I like capelli, spaghettini, linguine or tagliatelle
Sambal Oelek


Put a large pot of water, with salt, on to boil for the pasta.
In a skillet or frypan, on medium-low, heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per person.
Using the point of a knife, slit the casing of the Italian sausage and peel it off. Slice the sausage into rounds about a half-inch thick. Place these in the frying pan. After they have browned, turn them over. Sprinkle with the basil.
Slice the tomatoes in two lengthwise and remove the eye. Then slice each half into thin wedges. When the sausages have browned, add these to the pan. Salt to taste.
Finally, when the tomatoes are cooked (three or four minutes) add about a tablespoon of sambal oelek per person to the pan and mix together.
When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pan. Toss everything together and put on serving plates.
Grate real Parmesan cheese (from Italy!) over each serving.

Pick a robust wine to stand up to the pronounced flavors of the dish. Maybe a good California or Australian Shiraz.

In the original he used ground chiles, but I don't like them much as you are always picking out little dried bits from your teeth. The sambal oelek works much better.

No photo because it wasn't until I had eaten half the plate that I decided to do a post. Here's a picture of the jar of sambal oelek:

Personally, I think that one of the biggest secrets to Italian cooking, and one that no Italian restaurant in my area seems aware of, is the need to use real Parmesan cheese for grating. It comes in those big 50 lb rounds and it's not cheap. But it is so, so worth it. That rubbery, tasteless stuff that comes in a box or can, pre-grated, is awful. And so is the cheese from Uruguay that is also labeled "Parmesan". Parmesan cheese comes from Parma. In Italy. And it has a unique and irreplaceable flavor.


Marc Puckett said...

I do a similar preparation using finocchiona, a sausage flavored with fennel. Locally there are perhaps, oh, six or seven groceries that have cheese departments featuring interesting imported cheeses-- but at more than a dollar an ounce, real Parmesan is a precious commodity; of course the artisanal cheeses made here in the Northwest are often more pricey than that, so it's all relative. Too many meals ended with too generous portions of Pont-l'Évêque is one of the reasons I am too fat.

Bryan Townsend said...

I suspect you live in a bit of a foodie paradise. Plus, there are those fine Oregon Pinot Noirs. Some American artisanal cheeses are almost a match for Parmesan. There are a couple available down here, but I don't recall the name at the moment.