I give up. No, really, I do. For the past three weeks (since I received my new Tyler Florence cookbooks) I have been cooking up a storm, picking exciting, new, and complicated recipes. You know what? My little buddy Friedrich the lobster wore me out last week!
I decided I wasn't going to make an entry for Tyler Florence Fridays this week. With the renovation of our house, being on baby watch (any time now!) and just dealing with the life and times of a 4 year old bully (yep, apparently that is my son's new role at school), I didn't think I had it in me.
Don't believe me? Yeah, neither do I. There is one recipe in Dinner at My Place that I keep going back to, but I keep putting it on the back burner because, well, its too easy. I mean, c'mon, I'm Italian. You think I haven't paired pasta with sausage and tomatoes before? But every time I picked up the book, it would just flop open to that page....beckoning me.Yes, you know I did, I gave in. I mean, after all, my garden is thriving right now. The basil and tomatoes are beautiful. Gotta use them before the heat of summer fries them to shriveled little bits, right?
But you also know I can't just make a recipe. I can rarely resist making some alterations to any recipe I try, even Tyler's.
What's funny, is I have been talking about TFF for ages now and my husband, who previously thought I was crazy, is now gradually coming over to the dark side. He just shook his head at me when I was putting together the light box. But then, after the meal was complete, he was making suggestions, "You need a place mat under the dish." "Put a glass of wine next to the bowl" "wait to put the cheese on top until you get it in there or it'll melt before you get the shot."Silly man....like I hadn't already thought of all that.
Now that I have his attention, however, I have a new problem. My husband has always been competitive. Its why we don't have "game night" at our house. A simple game of Trivial Pursuit can be grounds for divorce. But.....trying to get him more involved and make him feel like a part of things, I asked him to pick the next dish I make. That may have been my first mistake.
He has now proclaimed it a competition. He is going to pick a dish, alright. But, its going to be for HIM to make. He wants to make a dish and do a guest post on my blog so HE can enter it to TFF and beat me to getting picked to be on Tyler's blog.
I'm gonna have to kill him. I can't say 'no'. That wouldn't be fair.....I may just have to step it up a notch though....I can't let him win. There would be no peace in our house again.....ever.
That being said, he watched very carefully while I was preparing Tyler's Penne last night. Asking all kinds of questions....and actually not complaining about the ingredients. The torn basil, the tomatoes....normally things he would frown at, his response was simply, "No, if you need to put it in to make the recipe right, go ahead." I did make some changes though (big shock, here). I know the hubs isn't a big fan of tomatoes. He likes tomato sauce, but not biting into a big chunk, so instead of crushed tomatoes, I used an Italian seasoned tomato sauce. But I also took a bunch of yellow tear drop tomatoes from my garden and sliced them in half to toss in. I figured the were big enough that he couldn't miss them and would be able to pick them out, but it would still make a pretty addition to the pasta, in place of the peas (which the hubs also doesn't like). What I didn't foresee is that they would disintegrate into the sauce, never to be seen again, except for the occasional sweet surprise on my fork.
Now, the tomato sauce combined with the cream was positively decadent. There was not a bit of pasta that was not thoroughly coated in the silky stuff, and before I knew what had happened, my dish was empty! There must have been a hole in it somewhere. I didn't miss the peas a bit, and the torn basil melded into the texture of the sauce so well that the hubs didn't even pick it out....and trust me, that IS a shock! Roasting the sausage in the oven was such a nice twist. It gave the casing a nice bite, and freed up my stovetop. So many times I feel like I'm running a short order line at a diner with a million skillets going at once, but the oven saved me a step, which was great! It did take a bit longer to roast than estimated in the book, however, almost double the time, actually, before the sausage was done. I assumed that I was meant to toss the whole thing together at the end instead of plating the sausage and sauce on top of the pasta, although the directions in the book did not specify.
I have to admit, I wasn't hoping for anything special from this dish, but it went miles and miles above my expectations. I will definitely be trying this again....maybe with some crispy pancetta crumbled on top....mmmm that DOES sounds like a winner!
The hubs cleaned his plate and took an extra serving to work today for his welding partner, and I was lucky to have some pasta leftover for my own lunch today!
Here is Tyler's recipe, as it reads in the book. Put your own twist on it, or make it as is. Either way, it is a keeper!
Penne with Spicy Italian Sausage, Cream, Tomatoes and Peas
"Dinner at My Place" by Tyler Florence
Yield: Serves 4-6. Time: 55 minutes
• 4 links spicy Italian sausage
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 lb penne
• 4 cloves garlic
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
• 1 (28 oz.) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 cups peas
• 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for top of plate
• Fresh basil leaves for garnish
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the sausage links on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes until slightly golden and just cooked. Cut on the angle into bite-size pieces. Cook pasta in salted water until just tender but still has a bite to it — “al dente.”
Set a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat and add a 2-count of olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant for about 3 minutes. Add San Marzano tomatoes, torn basil leaves and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes then fold in cream and continue to simmer until rich and creamy. Add blanched peas, sausage, and grated Parmesan. Fold together and cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Serve topped with a shower of grated Parmesan and fresh basil.