Monday, March 11, 2013

Italian Sausage and Peppers Ragoût

Last week I mentioned that we made sausage at school, and said that over the weekend I wanted to use it up. I knew I could make an awesome lasagna, or meatball subs, but instead I decided to try something a little different. I pulled a couple different recipes and mashed them together and came up with this beautiful, chunky, Italian mess of noodles and peppers and fresh herbs. I called it a ragoût because that's what it's reminiscent of but technically a ragout is more like a stew that cooks for a long time, so maybe I should call this a quick ragoût. Or maybe I should just call it freaking delicious. That may be more effective. 

Italian Sausage and Peppers Ragoût

Olive oil
1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 orange (or green) bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
½ cup white white, chicken stock or water
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided
8 ounces rigatoni, uncooked
Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Place a large, heavy-bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat; add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, crumble the spicy Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky), allowing it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side; once the crumbled sausage is browned, remove it from the pan/pot with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl to hold for a moment; next, add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil, if necessary); once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper, and stir to combine, then add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden. Next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine (broth or water) and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced; next, add in the diced tomatoes with their juice, and return the browned spicy Italian sausage back into the pan, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off; add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil; stir, and keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

Prepare the noodles according to instructions on package, under cooking by about a minute so that they're still a bit firm. Drain the noodles well, and add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the rigatoni noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

Finish by serving with shaved Parmesan and remaining basil to top pasta. Enjoy!

*You could also use sweet Italian sausage if your family doesn't love spicy food. Or even try it with ground turkey or beef if that's your thing. Remember to season those types of meats with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning so that it has some of flavors that a sausage would contribute.

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