Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday: Staci's Orecchiette with Fresh Tomatoes and Sausage

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To indulge my inner Italian, I'm declaring this week...ITALIAN WEEK!  (it makes me excited just to type that)  I've searched for some fun new dishes and I'm cooking up one of my personal faves.  

I know that Italian food sometimes gets a bad rap because of the high carb content.  However; I've been to Italy (yes, lucky me) and let me tell you, they aren't all obese!  The reason?  They don't eat a vat of pasta for each meal.  A typical Italian dinner will include at least three courses eaten over the span of a couple of hours (or more).  You'd start with an Antipasti (appetizer), followed by il primo (first dish that is usually pasta...about one cup worth), il secondo (usually meat or fish), and a contorno (a side dish of veggies).  Also there is bread and wine of course.  And usually espresso with dessert if ordered.
Now, as much as I'd like to sit for two hours and enjoy my dinner, my kids aren't going to go for that.  So, I'm forced to just enjoy the il primo course or il secondo.  I have prepared a true Italian meal once for a family party at my home, but that was pre-kiddos.

So, keep in mind, when preparing Italian food, keep your portions smaller and you won't have to worry so much about the carb count.  And best of all, just enjoy the deliciousness that makes Italian food so damn good.

For today, I'm making my fave pasta.  It started as a recipe I found in a cookbook and then I've tweaked it from there.  I love this dish.  Mostly because of the gorgeous and sweet tasting cherry tomatoes.  I don't bother seeding or removing skins...takes too much time and actually I like both.  Cherry tomatoes can be pricey, so I don't make this often.  Orecchiette is a pasta that gets it's name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix 'etto' means 'small'.  It's a dome shaped pasta that is starting to show up more and more in regular grocery stores.  If you can't find any, use small shells instead.  

Hope you enjoy my fave pasta dish!  Happy cooking!



Ingredients:

3 bags 12oz Fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine (I buy Nature Sweet); halved
1 pkg Chicken Sicilian Sausage (Trader Joes Brand) (use 3-5 links to your taste, I use 3)
4oz chopped pancetta
1 small onion minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1 pkg pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
3 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
Salt
1 pkg Orecchiette pasta (or small shells if you can't find Orecchiette)
Parmesan Cheese


*just a note, I don't add much salt to this because of the pancetta and sausage, but if you're a salt lover...salt away!  :)

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and oil.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion is starting to get soft.
  
Turn the temp up to medium high and add the pancetta, cook until crispy.  Remove the casings from the sausage then add to skillet and brown.  Pour in the wine and scrape up those delicious browned bits.



Toss in the mushrooms and stirring occasionally, cook till they are slightly softened. 



Add the tomatoes (any extra juices too), basil and oregano, and salt to taste, and stir to combine.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for one to two hours, stirring occasionally.



While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta (make sure you have good salty water) until just al-dente.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water (DO NOT RINSE).  

Back to the skillet...add the spinach and cook till it begins to wilt.  Then toss in the pasta and stir to combine everything...stir frequently until everything is heated through.  (add some reserved pasta water if the sauce seems too thick)  



Spoon into bowls and top with fresh Parmesan cheese.   Enjoy! 







4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks great and it is always good to make the recipe your own.

R said...

This looks great; I'm printing it out for future reference!

How do you keep, organize, and re-find recipes you want to try? I have a system but would love ideas on what else could work!

Click and Cook said...

Hi R, thanks!
I have a ton of bookmarked under different labels. Soup, Pasta, etc. And dog eared in magazines. :) Not the best organization, but it works for me. LOL What do you use?

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

Why I use eRcepieCards.com...

BUT, this is a wonderful recipe. Just love the idea of the pancetta !!!

This would be a Fave of mine! Thanks so much for submitting!

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