Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spicy Sausage Rigatoni

You haven't seen much savory stuff here in a while, I know. I didn't think anyone was on to me but I got an email this morning from a reader (hi!), and I can't help but fulfill the request promptly, considering how seldom I get emails from this blog. And I was already halfway through typing up the carrot cake... Oh well!

One of my best friends was brave enough to move into an apartment around the corner from mine. I say brave because everyone who lives close enough to eat with me daily ends up puttin on a little weight...but it's not my fault! Portions, people! Anyway, this friend has developed a habit of coming over for dinner as often as possible (shock!). Fortunately, he has also developed a habit of bringing ingredients. Sometimes it's a couple of things I forgot to pick up at the store, and sometimes it's, "Surprise! It's sausage night!" And that is how this recipe came to be.

Luckily I keep a stash of various kinds of canned tomatoes, pastas, fresh herbs, and cheese handy, so that sausage was a good surprise. I went for rigatoni mostly because the other options were shells or lasagna, and I put sherry in the sauce because I can't help but put sherry in everything. (If you don't have any, go buy it. Then put it in every meat, fish, or mushroom dish you make, and you will thank me.) Sherry just might be my official favorite ingredient this year.

I didn't have as many fresh herbs on hand as I would've liked, but the sauce is lovely with just thyme. This recipe serves 3, or 2 if one has a bottomless stomach. It's also pretty fast, like, light speed compared to most of the stuff I cook!

Spicy Sausage Rigatoni
3 or 4 links spicy Italian sausage
about 1/2 a box of rigatoni
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup sherry
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15-oz can plain tomato sauce
1 15-oz can diced plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 branches worth of fresh thyme (about 1 tsp)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese for garnish

Measure out the amount of water needed according to the pasta box, and bring it to a boil. Place the sausage links carefully and boil until fully cooked. Remove the sausages with tongs but leave the water, you will cook the pasta in it momentarily, and it will be delicious.

In another sauce pot, sautée the minced garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until fragrant, then add the sherry. When the noise stops, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil, add a little water if it looks too solid. Turn heat down to medium and let simmer, stirring often. Slice the sausages about 1/4" thick and add them to the sauce. You should probably start the pasta around this time.

When the pasta is drained and ready, remove the sauce from heat and stir in some cheese. Serve over pasta immediately, preferably with some garlic bread and red wine. And more cheese on top, obviously.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Baby Portobello & Black Bean Soup

I can't help but brag: My friend Jesse and I are a pretty stellar team in the kitchen. Whenever we have cooked together, we have found that we have the same instincts about what needs to be added and when. The results are always delicious, and sometimes we even manage to write down what we did. Go team!

This soup arose from a sale on baby bellas at, where I tend to do my grocery shopping, and a new stainless steel stock pot I bought this week and was just dying to use. The seasoning was all her, but I take credit for the black beans. I strongly recommend trying this, immediately. I think I'm adding it to my Thanksgiving menu.

Baby Portobello & Black Bean Soup

2 16-oz packages baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp butter
4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
7 stems fresh thyme
1/3 cup sherry
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups water
1 15-oz can organic black beans
1/2 cup organic sour cream
3 to 4 cups whole milk

In the bottom of a stock pot, sautée the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in butter (or olive oil) until the onions are clear. Add sherry, wait for the sizzle to slow, then stir in herbs & Worcestershire sauce. Add the water and simmer over medium heat about two hours, uncovered. Remove from heat and pour soup into a blender, add black beans, and pulse until only small chunks remain. Return to the pot and stir in sour cream & milk over low heat. Add salt & black pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread and a dollop of sour cream. Cilantro would probably also be really good on top.