Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sausage and Rigatoni

Do you like the Italian dish, sausage with peppers and onions?  I do, but for a lot of people, that's a lot of peppers and onions!  Here's a modification of that dish that combines sausage with green onions and cherry tomatoes.  The green onions add a light flavor without going overboard.  It was very popular at my house a few nights ago.  I used rigatoni pasta, but of course, penne or large shell pasta would work well also.  Recently, on a Lydia Bastianich cooking show, she talked about pairing the pasta to the shape of the other ingredients.  For example, she said bulky pieces, like slices of sausage, go well with bulky pastas, like penne or rigatoni.  If you are using long strands of pasta like spaghetti, you should cut your ingredients in similar long strands so that they will tangle up well with the pasta and not just sit at the bottom of the pan.  A-ha!!  That's how to get a pasta primavera to mix cooperatively!  Anyway, this is a very helpful rule of thumb and does work!
Also, how about sausages?  Usually, I like to buy the "house made" types from my local grocer, but I really like Pederson's sausage as far as a national brand.  It is made without preservatives, including nitrates and other not-so-good stuff.  It costs a bit more than similar products, but think about it, do you really want to buy a cheap version of sausage?!  There's a lot of trust there as it is !  Ha!  Well, hey, trust me, you'll like this!

Sausage with Green Onions and Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb. good quality smoked sausage, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch green onions, sliced (use about 1/3 of the green stems)
1/4 cup white wine, broth, or pasta cooking liquid
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper, salt
1/2 lb. rigatoni or penne pasta
Big pot of boiling, salted water to cook the rigatoni in

Brown the sausage slices in a skillet, turning to brown well.  Remove the sausages and pour out the accumulated fat.  
Pour the rigatoni into the boiling, salted water.  Stir occasionally so they don't stick.
Add the green onions and the tomatoes to the skillet.  Cook and stir until the onions are slightly wilted.  Add the sausages and stir to combine.
When the rigatoni are cooked, drain them (reserve some cooking liquid) and pour the pasta into the skillet.  Add the pasta water, broth, or wine and cook a minute or two, stirring.  Add the cheese and black pepper and stir until combined and the cheese is somewhat melted.
Serve in bowls with extra grated cheese if desired.


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