Posts Tagged ‘sausage’

Spaghetti with Sicilian Meatballs

January 13, 2013

IMG_9502When we were in Italy, what struck me most is that there truly isn’t “Italian” food. Rather, their food is identified by the region you are in. Spaghetti and clams in the Italian Riviera. Boar in Tuscany. Pizza in Naples. That is why I was so intrigued when I saw a recipe for Sicilian meatballs in Bon Appetit.

The food of Sicily has a Greek and sometimes African influence, making it have more olives, capers and currants than you would find in the “boot.” So when looking at the meatball recipe, at first glance it seemed very traditional. Sausage meat (which was an interesting twist on the typical beef, veal, pork combo), breadcrumbs in milk, garlic, onion, etc. Yet, then they add pine nuts and currants to make it have a bit of nutty sweetness. They are baked, and then smothered in a traditional Italian red sauce.

This dish has that same warm, comforting result as typical Italian meatballs, but they do have an interesting sweetness to them that makes them have a “hmm, what’s that?” factor. It is a great alternative to a typical bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and will be making its way to our dinner table as a great Sicilian (not Italian!) dish!

SPAGHETTI WITH SICILIAN MEATBALLS
Serves 4-6

Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Meatballs:
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons dried currants

1 pound spaghetti

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and 2 tablespoons basil; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with fork, about 1 hour. Mix in 2 tablespoons basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.

For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, pine nuts and currants; blend well. Using wet hands, form mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add to sauce.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Mound in dish. Bring sauce and meatballs to simmer. Mix with and spoon over spaghetti.

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Onion and Fennel Pizza

September 28, 2010

To me, sausage screams pork. Sure, it isn’t the most nutritious thing for you to put in your mouth, but doesn’t the taste make all of that guilt go away? After a few weeks of being in Italy and experiencing their sausage, I will admit this gluttonous ingredient has made its way into many of my dishes – pasta, pizza, and just about anything I think it could complement.

So, when Cooking Light told me there was a healthier alternative, I pretty must ignored that sentence in the article like it didn’t exist. It isn’t sausage if it isn’t pork, right?

Okay, okay, I am not THAT close-minded, but I had skepticism when I read this pizza recipe with chicken sausage. But, it has apple chicken sausage (sounds interesting!), has sweet onions (yum!) and fennel (so fall!). So, my obsession with seasonal cooking took over my fear of non-pork sausage, and I tried this recipe the other night when the crisp air told me it was officially autumn.

Wow. Now, I will admit, it is not the pork sausage you know, so I would never do a comparison. But, for being something different, it tastes great and is a fantastic change of pace. The flavors meld together to really give that fall sense of warm and spice (especially with the fennel).

By buying a pre-cooked crust and pre-cooked chicken sausage, there really isn’t too much to this one. It was on the table in about 30 minutes. One tip, make sure to really cook those onions so it brings out their sweet flavor (and eliminates most of its bitterness).

Thanks to Cooking Light for broadening my horizons a bit. Pork sausage will not be leaving my cooking repitoire anytime soon, but it is good to know that its cousin, pork sausage, is a relative I need to get to know a bit better! And hey, with a healthier sausage, that means you can have one more slice, right?

CHICKEN SAUSAGE, SWEET ONION AND FENNEL PIZZA
2-4 Servings

3 ounces chicken apple sausage, chopped (such as Gerhard’s)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced Oso Sweet or other sweet onion
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 small bulb)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) prebaked pizza crust (such as Mama Mary’s)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gouda cheese (I used more like 6 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.

Add oil to pan. Add onion, fennel, and salt; cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Top evenly with onion mixture; sprinkle with cheese, and top evenly with sausage. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with chives. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory

July 25, 2010

As you may know by now, every Thursday my husband and I have “pasta and wine night.” It is a treat because I am only allowed to make pasta once a week (per my healthier husband) and we get a glass of wine to celebrate the start of the weekend the next day.

In the summer it is tough to find pasta that feels right for the hot, sticky nights. No 5-hour tomato sauce, no baked ziti, no homemade macaroni. So, I am on a constant search for summer pasta.

I found this one in Food & Wine (by Michael White) and thought it looked light, yet flavorful. I was also curious about the chicory/escarole because I will admit, I had actually never cooked with it before. I also thought the mint was an interesting twist…I always trust Food & Wine, so I thought we should give it a try.

The sauce is light – the chicken broth melds with the sausage drippings and olive oil into a flavorful coating. The escarole adds a nice flavor (and healthy component). And the mint, just seems to work – can’t describe why!

So, I recommend making this one on a hot summer night when you want some light pasta without sacrificing the flavor. I know we will eating this one a few more Thursdays this year!

ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND CHICORY
6 Servings

1 pound orecchiette
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound chicory or escarole, coarsely chopped and washed
Kosher salt
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons shredded mint

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate.

Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicory with any water clinging to the leaves and season with salt. Cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until the chicory is tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the sausage, chicken stock and pecorino and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is slightly reduced and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the mint and serve right away, passing extra cheese at the table.

The Culinary Trip of a Lifetime – Part 1 (Venice & Lake Como)

June 12, 2010

So yes, it has been a month since my last blog post. No, I didn’t stop cooking and I certainly didn’t stop eating. I spent 2 weeks in Italy, vacationing with my husband, and 2 more debating how on earth I would going to write a blog post (or multiple blog posts) about it.

The reality is, we will be doing this in phases. We took a cooking class in Lake Como that warrants its own blog post. Also, each region had such different, unique food – I will be breaking this out into Northern Italy (Venice, Lake Como), Cinque Terre/Italian Riviera, Tuscany, Umbria and Rome.

So, I will start from the top…

I was lucky enough to have been to Italy once with my parents, but I barely dipped my toe into the culture, the food and the wine. I knew I needed to go back. On the flip side, my Italian husband (whose grandfather came from a small town in Tuscany called Pietrasanta) had never been. We love food. We love wine. It seemed so obvious.

So, on our 3 year anniversary, I surprised my husband with plane tickets for the next spring, and 8 months later we were on a very long Delta flight to Venice for two weeks of relaxation, romance, scenery, food and wine. And more wine.

I did my culinary homework before the trip – reading about the foods in each region and studying up on my issues of La Cucina Italiana (I highly recommend it). I started to learn what areas were known for, what you “have to have” in each city, and the importance of all of the Italian basics.

VENICE

Our trip began in Venice, and I will admit I was so enamored by the romance and a bit blurred by jetlag, that I didn’t take photos of much food in this city. But, it was obvious the abundance of seafood. Our first night when my husband got Carbonara (my personal favorite) I went with a seafood pasta. Of course, it was a small taste of what 2 weeks in Italy would be like – food heaven. Also, in Venice we had our first gelato (which was followed by MANY more) – there is nothing else like it! Gelato is make with milk instead of cream (which is how ice cream is made) so gelato is lighter and smoother.

Below are a few food and wine pictures from Venice:

Gelato

Street market stall

Panini

Drinks at Cafe Florian - I had the house red, Rob had sambuca

VARENNA, LAKE COMO

After a mere one night in Venice, we took the train to Varenna on Lake Como. I was particularly excited about this city, and not for the chance of running into George Clooney (although it would have been nice.). I have heard that Lake Como is a gem – a still somewhat off the beaten path vacation area for wealthy Milanese. The alpine lake is a crystal blue, the alps show their snow caps in the distance and the little villages are quaint and surreal. Every view was a postcard.

Beef Risotto with Red Wine Sauce at La Vista

Our first night in Varenna we had reservations at Ristorante La Vista – very well known for amazing cuisine. We each started with a shrimp bruschetta that was amazing, the freshness and slight citrus of the dish woke up your palate. My entree was a risotto with beef, yet instead of the traditional broth sauce, it was a heavy wine sauce, drizzled with a red wine syrup. It seemed so intriguing on the menu, I knew I had to try it and it was so rich and deep with flavor. I could never recreate it.

Filet of Beef with Balsamic Reduction at La Vista

My husband had a filet mignon with a balsamic glaze. I beamed with pride when he told me it tasted like my filet mignon I make for him with balsamic (on this blog) but of course the quality of the balsamic in Italy surpasses anything we have in the US, so it certainly was a notch above. Dessert was a chocolate dream on a plate. And complementing our meal along the way was a splurge wine – a Barolo. Lake Como is close to the Barolo region and as we attempted to eat regional cuisine and drink regional wine on the trip, we knew it was the right wine for the night. It was one of the best bottles of wine I have ever had.

Chocolate Goodness at La Vista

As if we hadn’t had our culinary overload on our first night, on day two we were picked up in the Varenna square by Francesca who wove us up some hills for 10 minutes (Italian driving at its best) to her father Moreno’s restaurant in Perledo. We partook in a cooking class at his restaurant – 5 hours of cooking, drinking, eating and hearing Moreno’s stories. As I mentioned, this experience deserves its own entry, so I will do one at a later date.

Other food and wine we enjoyed in Varenna (and nearby Bellagio, after which the famous LasVegas hotel is named) included:

The Barolo at La Vista

In Northern Italy, an Aperitivo (drink before dinner) always included lots of snacks

Chianti Classico

Tiramisu - my favorite!

Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Sausage and Fennel

Lamb Chops with Fresh Herbs

Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Melon with Proscuitto

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

October 11, 2009

Pumpkin PastaYes, this is the second pumpkin recipe I am blogging about in two days. But for those who know me, know I live by seasonal cooking. So, being mid-October, you will be seeing lots of pumpkin, butternut squash and my transition from grilling to comfort food.

This recipe is a favorite in our house. The pumpkin with nutmeg and cozy spices make it a comforting dish – and the sausage give it an extra kick of flavor.

This recipe originally comes from Rachael Ray.

PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE
4 Servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.


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