Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Everything in moderation

It's not the healthiest, but it could be worse. I've been making pasta like this for a number of years, and it's always safe for casual company who don't mind pork and dairy. It's a simple complete meal that requires just two pieces of cookware, one to boil the pasta, and another for the sausage and veges, which may explain why similar concoctions are available at a lot of restaurants. The combination I used here was just what looked good at the time. Just about any vegetables can be used. Asparagus is a classic, as are bell peppers. The colors and textures of the veges matter, otherwise it's just pasta and cream sauce.
- Pasta (The little ridged penne I mentioned a few posts ago.)
- Sausage (I used Spicy Italian, although I imagine others would do.)
- Heavy Cream (There's no substitute.)
- Cooking oil
- Okra, sliced
- Carrot, small/medium sized dice
- Parsley, chopped
- Chile pepper flakes (Optional, I guess.)
- Paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan Cheese
- Bring salted water to a boil
- While water is heating up, brown unsliced sausage in cooking oil in a pan large enough to hold everything, including the pasta (I kept the sausage in its casing for this one.)
- Once the sausage is browned on as many sides as possible (Don't worry if it's not cooked through.) remove it to a cutting board
- Don't clean the pan (The pan never gets cleaned for this one.)
- If water for the pasta is boiling now, add the pasta, if not, just add the pasta when the water's ready
- While pasta is cooking (hopefully), add carrot, salt, and pepper to the pan along with a splash of water (The water should cook off quickly, and it will help soften the carrot.)
- While carrots are cooking, slice the sausage
- Once carrots are pretty soft add okra, chile flakes, and the now sliced sausage to the pan
- Cook until all the pan's contents are just about how you like them (It's nice if you could brown the face of the sliced sausage.)
- Add some cream to the hot pan (It should start cooking down right away. You don't need much, just enough to thinly coat the pasta once it's cooked down.)
- As the cream and contents are bubbling away, scrape the bottom of the pan with a utensil to incorporate any stuck bits and add some paprika (This is for flavor and color. Some sausages will leach lots of color, some not so much. Adjust amount of paprika accordingly.)
- Add some of the pasta water to the pan to thin out the cream sauce and get it to a good place
- Check on the pasta, it should be getting there (It's best if it's pretty al dente in this recipe.)
- If the pasta is not done, but the sauce and contents therein are where you want them, just turn off the heat under the pan
- Once pasta is done, drain it an add to the sauce, sausage, and veges (The flame should be on when the pasta is added.)
- Add parsley and mix well
- Turn off heat when pasta is just about perfect
- Grate Parmesan cheese over the mixture and, again, mix well
- Ready to serve

It sounds more complicated than it is, and it tastes pretty good. Here's what the part that didn't fit in the bowl looks like:

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