I'm half Italian….it's genetic.
That said, I like my pasta dishes bold, not boring. Pasta served with just a thin red sauce, or a bland cream sauce leave me utterly depressed and feeling like dinner is some sort of carbo-loading torture. Let's face it, pasta on its own is nothing to turn cartwheels over, and the success of a dish depends almost entirely on what you toss the pasta with before serving. Even the finest homemade pasta cannot survive a marriage with a lousy sauce. Really, don't even bother try it, it will make you cry.
If a pasta dish aces or fails on the quality of its sauce, then this plate will have you scoring it a solid 10. The fatty richness of the sausage combined with the briney bite of the olives and the sweetness of the roasted peppers and tomatoes make for a well balanced sauce just oozing with the flavors of Provence. We used a mild Italian sausage because some of the kids gag at too much spice, and tossed some fresh cilantro in just before serving for a splash of color and a fresh note. Parsley would also work well, or if you really want to ramp up the green food quotient, toss some baby spinach into the pasta pot about 30 seconds before the pasta is finished cooking. The beans are there for a little extra kick of good nutrition as low-fat, high protien morsels.
A little drizzle of your best EVOO when plating will add a luxurious note to the mouth-feel, and some freshly grated parmesan at the table will finish an offering that could never be accused of being boring.
Cheers – Steve
- 30 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 large, jarred roasted red pepper
- 6 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, including its juice
- 1 pound Italian sausage (hot, sweet or a combo)
- 1 15 ounce can cannelini beans, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 pound dried penne or rigatoni pasta cooked to al dente
- freshly grated parmesan cheese, passed at the table
- Bring a large pasta pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- While the water is heating, heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet set over medium-high heat and drop in little pieces of sausage pulled from its casing. Let the sausage pieces brown well before stirring. Continue to cook until the sausage is nicely browned and fully cooked, then add the minced garlic, and stirring constantly cook for 1 minute.
- Add the olives, red pepper, beans, sun-dried tomato and canned, diced tomato with its juices and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta to al dente, then when finished, drain well and add to the skillet with the sauce. Toss over low heat to combine, taste for seasoning and add the chopped cilantro just before serving. Once plated, drizzle with a touch of EVOO and top with gratings of fresh parmesan cheese.