Well, hello there! I’m Nicole, food-blogger over at Cooking for Keeps, newlywed, momma to Ravioli the dog, avid food-blog reader, shopaholic, wannabe DIYer and total worry wart.
I am beyond excited to be contributing over here at Oh, Sweet Basil for the next couple of months. When I saw Carrian was looking for a few contributors, I literally stopped what I was doing, ran to the computer and immediately emailed Carrian. Needless to say, I am so honored to be here, talking to you and sharing some of my favorite recipes.
Being a food-blogger and all, my first inclination when developing a recipe is to fuss it up a bit. It’s not in my nature to just leave a normal roast chicken alone, or refrain from adding a little bit of spice to my pastas or omit some odd ingredient into my soups and stews — it’s a problem. Sometimes I forget the simple things in life are almost always the best. There’s nothing like a perfectly roasted chicken enhanced by a touch of butter, salt and pepper; I can’t think of anything more comforting than a big vat of spaghetti drizzled in a little bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese; and there is nothing, nothing like a steaming bowl of plain ol’ chicken noodle soup (I learned that one the hard way, after an intense bout with the flu a few weeks ago).
This first recipe reminds me of those simple comforting meals that are unlike any fancy dish, the ones that put a little soulfulness into me, and the ones that really take me back to my childhood.
Growing up, my Mom was a phenomenal cook; in fact, it’s where my cooking chops stemmed from. She always liked to experiment with new dishes or what you’d call “gourmet” creations, but the dishes that stick out most in my mind are the easy casseroles, roast chickens, quick pasta dinners and all around comforting dinners we had time and time again.
This skillet Italian sausage and peppers with whole-wheat penne was always a staple meal in our house, and one that everyone in our family adored — even the pickiest of eaters. Even better? It’s actually a pretty well rounded meal you can feel good about feeding your family. The sauce is derived from my Mother’s famous spaghetti sauce; a sauce that I tried to “make my own” time and time again, but came to the realization that it’s just as it should be. Simple in its ingredients, the base consists of tomato paste, red wine and a little bit of Italian seasoning.
Italian sausage and peppers are sautéed and then simmered in the rich sauce and tossed with cooked whole-wheat penne pasta. I like to use a mild Italian sausage, but you could use a sweet or spicy pork sausage, or even a turkey or chicken Italian sausage would work great if you’re really watching your waistline.
What I really love about this, is everything is cooked and assembled in one big pot (aside from the cooking of the pasta), it’s seriously easy as can be and comes together in 30 minutes (or less!).
Just as this was a staple in my house growing up, today it’s still a staple in my home, and maybe it will be in yours too.
Skillet Italian Sausage and Peppers with Whole-Wheat Penne
- 12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
- 1 pound Italian sausage links (1 package)
- 1 small green pepper, sliced
- 1 small red pepper, sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
- ½ cup red wine (merlot or pinot noir)
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 12 ounces water
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Parmesan Cheese for finishing
- In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve starchy cooking water.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Brown sausages on all sides, until almost cooked through, remove and cut into ¼ inch slices. You don’t have to worry about cooking them all the way through, they will finish cooking while the sauce simmers.
- In the same pan drizzle another teaspoon or so of olive oil and sauté the peppers and onions until slightly softened, about five minutes.
- Return sausage back to the pan and deglaze with red wine.
- Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes.
- Add penne to the skillet, toss with sauce. If needed add starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce up.
- Season with salt and pepper and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.