Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whole Wheat Pasta with Country Sausage, Wilted Greens and Ricotta

Now that colder weather is upon us, I've been craving and cooking dishes with heat.

Dishes like this lovely pasta I whipped up with crumbled pork country sausage (plain because the sweet/spicy versions always disappoint), cherry peppers, wilted greens, and my sweet and creamy "drunken onions," all topped with a cooling dollop of fresh ricotta cheese.
It's spicy, but not unpleasantly so -- it hits you with a slow, gentle burn, not a fiery fierceness. And, all of the other flavors help balance out the heat: spicy, salty, sweet, earthy, creamy, yum.

You could say it's like a warm blanket of flavor...

Whole Wheat Pasta with Country Sausage, Wilted Greens and Ricotta
13.5 oz. whole wheat, medium-sized pasta shells
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 TBS brandy
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb plain pork country sausage, casings removed, and crumbled
Kosher salt/ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 small hot red cherry pepper, seeds/stem removed, and finely diced
2 cups finely chopped kale, chard, spinach or a mix of greens
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz. fresh ricotta

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:
  • Fill a large pot with water and a few handfuls of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil pasta until al dente, then reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the rest and set pasta aside.
  • Meanwhile, make the drunken onions: In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat 1 TBS butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add in the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent. Add the brandy and cook a few minutes more, until alcohol has burned off.
  • Add the garlic and crumbled sausage to the onions, and cook until the meat is browned and the garlic is soft. Season with salt/pepper and add the chili flakes.
  • Stir in the cherry pepper and greens, and cook until pepper has softened and the greens are wilted.
  • Pour in the chicken broth and stir to mix well.  Cook for a few minutes, until all the flavors are combined.
  • Reduce the heat, then add the cooked pasta to the pan and heat until warmed through. 
    • Note: Stir in the reserved pasta water a bit at a time if the pasta mixture seems too dry.
  • Scoop into bowls and top each dish with a dollop of ricotta before serving.

A very tasty way to keep toasty!


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