Do you notice something a little different around here?
My wishes for the new blog design were to make it cleaner and fresher with much more functionality whereby making things easier to find and use. I hope I’ve accomplished that! I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out though not so enamored with the tumultuous journey that led me to it.
I began daydreaming about a re-design late last summer and contacted a small graphics design firm out west to go over logistics. Agreements were made, money got wired and then as the months dragged on, the e-mails started to dwindle until they vanished full stop. I tried numerous times to contact them but came up empty-handed; they had no listed telephone numbers, physical addresses, no nothing. And then their website disappeared so that’s when I knew they had fallen off the face of the planet. I ended up having to do everything on my own which is why it took nearly six months to complete. Good times to be had by all.
Anyway, best not dwell on the past. Let’s focus on the here and now. Here’s a simple pasta sausage dish to cook up to round out all the heavy-handed winter chow we’ve been stuffing our face with these past couple months. You can call this light, hell, you can even call it nutritious, but I just like to call it lunch. Laden with morsels of briny, pungent sausage and complected with layers of wilted broccoli rabe, this noodle plate is sure to satisfy your palate any given day.
Whole wheat rotini with rapini, Italian sausage, and Pecorino Romano
This is one of my easy, no-fuss, go-to lunch options I make for Jason and I during the work week. It’s somewhat healthy, with the inclusion of whole wheat spirals and antioxidant-rich greens but all of that is tempered by the luscious salty goodness of porky sausage, which to me, is a must addition for this meal. I’ll have to admit though, the first time I made this on a weekend summer afternoon I happened to use a jumble of ingredients left behind in the icebox, like frozen kielbasa links + a leftover container of roasted potatoes I had made for breakfast one morning. I didn’t use either of those this time around (granted, I had totally forgotten but my lovely husband promptly reminded me of it last night) but they would be a terrific supplement or substitution for either meats or pasta noodles. I envision a big bowl of crusted potato wedges glazed in crimson chorizo fat intermingled with spinach or Swiss chard. Either way, please include some kind of porcine — the season begs it of you.
8 ounces whole wheat rotini corkscrew pasta (about 1/2 standard box, give or take)
1 pound Italian sausage or kielbasa (chopped into half moons)
Olive oil, if needed
1 bunch rapini, chopped roughly, tough bottom stems and leaves discarded
1 red bell pepper, chopped roughly
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pecorino Romano, for grating and deco
Boil your pasta with a generous dash of salt. Stir. When it’s al dente and still has a satisfying chew to it, take it out and strain. Set aside.
In a large frying pan set over medium-high heat, brown the sausage or kielbasa (or both!), breaking up the sausage with a utensil of your choosing and then leaving it be until it’s golden and fat rendered, about 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, take the meat out and put into a big mixing bowl. While you’re there, dump the strained noodles into this big bowl too. Set aside. If it doesn’t look like there’s enough sheen to the pan, go ahead and make the executive decision to add a touch more olive oil at this point. Otherwise, keep the glorious pork fat (rendered from the meat) in the fry pan and to this add the chopped rapini and red bell pepper. It will look like a ton of rapini but this wilts down quick just as spinach does. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the vegetables are slightly cooked down and the colors are vibrant, take off the heat and put it in the bowl with the meat and noodles.
Stir everything together and then grate in a generous offering of Pecorino cheese. Mix and taste, adding more salt, more pepper, or more cheese as you deem fit.
I like to serve this with extra wispy tendrils of Pecorino right on top. It looks pretty and people will fancy you if you do.