The first entry of a blog is a pressure filled situation. Lucky for me, no one reads it yet so there isn’t too much reason for worry. For my very first entry, I will share the recipe for something that has come to be known as “Pasta a la Steve.” It is one of the things I made for my husband early on in our relationship so it has the distinction of being named after him. It is easy, cheap, kinda-sorta healthy, and always gets a rave. Serves 4.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken sausage links (I prefer spicy but you can use any kind you like.)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (Again, I like spicy so adjust this a bit if you are not a hot head.)
3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 white or yellow onion thinly sliced
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 zucchini cut in rounds*
½ pound of pasta (This is really up to you. I have made it with anything from angel hair to smoked mozzarella ravioli. Just use what you have.)
2 cups canned peeled chopped tomatoes
½ cup of cream or half and half (do not substitute with something thinner than half and half)
1 cup of grated parmesan
¼ cup of sliced fresh basil (Time to work out those chiffonade skills. Roll up the leaves like a cigar and thinly slice– then brag that you know how to chiffonade. Werk.)
splash of wine (optional)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Remove the casings from the sausages and place in the pan. Break apart the links. Cook until no longer pink. Remove the sausage from the pan and place on a plate. Set aside. If there are little bits of sausage stuck to the pan, pour a bit (¼ of a cup or so) of wine and scrape with a wooden spoon).
In the same pan, add the olive oil. Wait about 20-30 seconds or until the oil spits when hit with a little sprinkle of water. Add the zucchini, red pepper, and yellow onion. Cook these veggies until almost soft.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Season the veggies with salt and black pepper to taste. You are going to season each layer to ensure good flavor throughout the dish. If you just add salt at the end, it will not enhance the flavor of the ingredients but instead just leave the dish with a salty taste.
Add tomatoes and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes. When the sauce or until sauce has thickened a bit.
In the meantime, fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil. Before adding the pasta, add lots of salt to the water. It should be “as salty as the Mediterranean.” Add pasta. Follow cooking instructions on package.
Add sausage and pasta to the sauce. Remove from heat. Stir in cream, cheese, and basil.
*This recipe provides the opportunity to use any veggie in the fridge. If you have more peppers and no zucchini, just use the peppers. If you have some spinach you need to use, wilt it down in the sauce. Get creative!