cavatelli with spicy sausage & sun-dried tomatoes


This is the post for my little brother who’s off being a college kid.  It’s weird not having him around all the time — now I know how he felt when I went off to school!  For his last home-cooked meal of the summer I made a pasta dish that has become one of my family’s favorites.  It definitely ranks in my top five favorite dishes.  The original version of this dish is one of Giada DeLaurentis’ recipes that I found on foodnetwork.com.

I love that you cook the sausage in the oil that the jarred sun-dried tomatoes are packed in.  It just adds something extra to the already spicy and flavorful sausage.

Giada uses fusilli pasta, but the ricotta cavatelli is one my favorite changes I’ve made to the dish.  If you haven’t tried cavatelli you MUST.  Mike introduced this pasta to me because it is one of his favorites.  It’s so rich and tender – it’s now one of my favorites too!  If I hadn’t decided to make this dish for him one day, I wouldn’t have thought to change the pasta.  So this addition to the recipe is thanks to Mike!  Most grocery stores carry frozen bags, but I’ve also gotten fresh cavatelli at Italian specialty stores.

 

Cavatelli with Spicy Sausage & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen cavatelli
  • 1 7.5 oz. jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes sliced, oil reserved
  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed
  • salt and pepper

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausages and cook until browned, breaking up the meat into bite-sized pieces. (I usually do this step by squeezing the sausage meat out of the casing into the skillet and breaking it up with a wooden spoon once the meat starts to brown.) Transfer the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

This is usually the best point to add the cavatelli to the pot of boiling water. Cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, about 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta and 5-7 minutes for frozen. Drain the pasta.

In the same skillet from which you removed the sausage, add the garlic and sauté until tender.  Then, add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Raise the heat to medium-high and boil until the sauce reduces slightly.

Add the pasta, sausage, basil, and parsley to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mozzarella right before serving so that the cheese does not become too stringy.

Serve with grated Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentis via foodnetwork.com

How I eat it: with a hot and crusty loaf of bread on the side.

sausage, fig, & spinach pizza

Grilling pizza dough = best idea ever.  Actually, grilling anything seems to make it better.  I love that smoky flavor and those charred edges that you get when you prepare a meal on the grill.  Surprisingly, everyone in my family, even my picky dad and brother, loves this sausage and fig pizza so it has become a common summer dinner.

This recipe was inspired by one that I found in Food & Wine last summer.  My mom and I made quite a few changes to the original recipe and last night I think we really perfected it. Sorry for the lack of measurements, but really you can put as much or as little of each ingredient on your pizza as you want. Take away the sausage and it makes for a yummy vegetarian pizza too!

Ingredients

Fresh pizza dough, regular or whole wheat — we use 2 store-bought packages to make 4 large “personal” pizzas

Italian hot sausage — a 1 lb. package is more than enough for 4 pizzas

Shredded mozzerella cheese 

Red onion, sliced

Olive oil

Fig preserves

Fresh spinach

Fresh basil


Method

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Boil sausages for 15-20 minutes — I learned from my mom that this assures that the sausages are thoroughly cooked, they are not something you want to eat rare!  It also reduces fat content in the sausages. Meanwhile, prepare barbeque on medium-high heat. Grill sausages until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove sausages from grill, slice, and set aside.

Heat about 1 teaspoon olive oil (enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan) in a small saute pan.  Add onions and let cook until soft, stirring often.

On a well-floured board, roll out the pizza dough to your desired shape and thickness (we like our dough pretty thick, so we roll it out to about a half inch in thickness).  Brush top with olive oil.

Grill pizza dough (side brushed with olive oil down) until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Brush the other side with olive oil and turn over.

Top pizzas with cheese, sausage, and onions.  Cover and grill for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.  Remove pizzas from grill and top with fig preserves, spinach, and basil.

Recipe inspired by Food & Wine’s Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza

How I eat it: LOTS of cheese, light on the fig preserves, & with some freshly cracked pepper on top.

For some reason our pizzas always end up in this odd, oblong shape – but hey, it doesn’t change the taste!