Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday Night Quickie

Whole Wheat Penne with Mild Italian Sausage and Lemon-Artichoke Pesto

Most people I know dread Mondays. I'm not sure why. I'm indifferent to Mondays but loathe Wednesdays. Most people ask, "How can you hate Wednesday, it's hump day?"

To which I respond, "Please don't call it hump day."

I hate Wednesdays because it's limbo - you're the furthest point, west or east, from the weekend and while we could debate this ad nauseam you'll just have to trust me on this - Wednesdays blow.

But I digress, Monday is typically a busy day for me (at least conceptually) and after spending most weekends cooking something that takes a little extra effort I like to try and make Monday night relatively pain free.

That said, this recipe is an original and can be on your plate in twenty minutes if you’re fast, twenty-five minutes if you're dogs are constantly in the way (why do they always have to stand right by the stove?).

Okay, you caught me...

I steal the "lemon artichoke pesto" part from a jar but like I said, Monday is all about ease and I wasn't about to whip up my own pesto (lazy I know).

Here's what you'll need:

3/4 lb mild Italian sausage, casing removed
half small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup light cream
a few glugs of white wine (I use a cheap chardonnay)
a few glugs of chicken stock
small handful of frozen peas
1 box whole wheat penne (I use Barilla)
1/4-1/2 jar of lemon-artichoke pesto (Turtle Dove is the brand I used)
dash of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Before you get started on the sauce get your pasta water going, add the penne and some sea salt once it comes to a boil. The pasta needs about 8 minutes and don't forget to stir it occasionally so it doesn't stick. Strain and reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water once the pasta is al dente.

Remove the casings on the sausages and get them into a hot skillet with olive oil. Break apart the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula until the sausage resembles ground chuck. Once completely browned, removed from the skillet and set to the side.

If there is an excess of fat from the sausage feel free to discard SOME of it reserving a couple tablespoons to sauté the garlic and onions (seriously people, this is pork fat we're talking about and it's important to people like me - keep your health conscious thoughts to yourself).

Hit the onions and garlic with a couple dashes of red pepper flakes for a little heat and then reduce the stove to medium-low and let the onions sweat it out for a few minutes. Once translucent de-glaze the pan with a little white wine and/or chicken stock. I use both for flavor but you can probably get away with either if you don't have both on hand.

Once you have all the brown bits from the sausage incorporated into the onions and garlic add the pesto and cream. Stir to mix and drop the heat to low. Add the sausage and peas and cook until heated through (no more than a few minutes).

Add the strained pasta, the pasta water and the parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir.

And that's all she wrote.

Tasty, quick and easy - just as a Monday night should be.

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