Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweet Italian Sausage Pasta & Salad

Hello Everyone! 
Long time no blog, right? I apologize for the lack of posts for the past couple of months. As I've been progressing through my undergrad years of college it just keeps getting harder and harder... Unfortunately, I'll probably only be able to update this blog when I have some extra time on my hands. But please do check back every now and then! :) 

Now that the new quarter has just begun, I have been taking many trips to the grocery store in order to stock up my fridge. Today I wanted to cook some type of pasta dish, and as I was strolling through the isles of Trader Joe's, I spotted their "Sweet Italian Sausage". I decided that I would try a twist on my usual Spaghetti & Salad. Usually I just make my Spaghetti with lean ground beef, and it's pretty good for the most part. However, the Italian sausage adds so much more flavor to the pasta! Next time you spot it in the meat department definitely give it a try. 

This sauce recipe serves around 4-5 people. However, if you're only serving for 2 (in my case my roommate, Connie, and I) just freeze the rest and defrost for another time!  

Ingredients for Sweet Italian Sausage Pasta: 
1. Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Sausage  
2. Yellow Onion 
3. Garlic 
4. Dried Italian Seasoning  
5. Red Tomato based Pasta Sauce (I used Classico's Sweet Tomato Basil)
6. Linguine (or use your favorite type of pasta)  

For the Salad:
7. Romaine Lettuce
8. Mini Tomatoes 
(cherry, grape, or in my case heirloom!)  
9. Cucumbers (I used Persian) 
10. Corn 
11. Dressing of your choice (I used Caesar) 

Step 1: 
Prepare the ingredients for your salad. You can either cut or rip your salad into bite sized pieces. I halved/quartered the tomatoes depending on the size and I cut the cucumbers in to 1/4 in. thick half circles. Place everything in a large bowl.

Tip: For any meal, prepare your raw vegetables first. If you start by preparing the ingredients for the pasta, you'll get an onion-y/garlic-y tasting salad! Also you avoid any cross contamination. 

Step 2: 
Prepare the ingredients for your pasta sauce. Finely cube a quarter of an onion, mince 3-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic!), and reserve an 1/4 of a cup of tomatoes from the salad. 


Step 3
Heat up some olive oil in a pan on medium high and add your onions. Cook and stir them for about ~3 minutes, or until their slightly translucent. Add your garlic, a dash of salt, and a generous tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Continue to cook and stir for another ~3 minutes. 


Tips: By adding salt you're able to draw out the moisture from the onions. This way they'll cook faster and sweeter as well. Also by adding the dried Italian seasoning now, you're able to bring out their flavors in the hot oil.  While you're waiting, start boiling some water for the pasta! 

Step 4: 
Cut and throw out the casings from your sausage links. Add the sausage to the pan and use a large spoon to crumble the sausage into very small pieces. Continue to brown and cook the sausage for ~6-8 minutes, or till they're almost cooked through.  


Step 5: 
While your sausage is cooking, prepare your pasta using the directions on the box. Don't forget to add salt to the boiling water before you put in your pasta! This should take about 9-11 minutes depending on the type of pasta you are using. 

Step 6
Turn the heat to medium low and add the whole jar of your favorite red pasta sauce to the pan.  Put a lid on the pan and simmer while stirring occasionally. When there is 3 minutes left till the pasta is done, add your reserved tomatoes to the sauce to heat them through. This adds as nice freshness to the sauce! If you have fresh herbs, do it at this time as well. 

Tip: If you're skillet does not have a lid, just use a large piece of foil! 

Step 7: 
Drain your pasta, toss your salad (without dressing!), and assemble your plate. I usually don't dress my salad until everything is plated. This way everyone can use their own favorite type of dressing, and if there is extra salad I can store it in the fridge without it getting soggy. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you try it out tell me how it goes! 

Superlove & Happy Eating,