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Sunday, July 27, 2008

why have I not heard of this? rich tomato sausage pasta with olives

pasta with tomatoes olives sausage

I was looking for a baked pasta recipe on epicurious the other day - I wanted to find an easy-ish recipe that I could make, divide into 2 batches and freeze half of it for future use. I came across this recipe as the most reviewed, highest rated baked pasta in their archive, from about 10 years ago. The foundation is a simple tomato sauce that simmers for over an hour (since I work from home, I'm not intimidated by longer cook times, since I can put on a pot and stir it occasionally between emails and phone calls). I added spinach and spicy turkey sausage to up the protein and vitamin content; I also used ricotta instead of havarti cheese, to increase protein and decrease overall fat. It was so good - the second half of the batch won't last long in the freezer, since I'm already craving it again.

Grocery list: olive oil, 1 large or 2 small chopped onions, a couple minced garlic cloves, 2-3 28-oz cans Italian plum tomatoes, crushed red pepper, 2 cups chicken broth, 1 pound pasta, 2 1/2 cups grated havarti (or 1 15-oz container of low-fat ricotta), 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives (or more), 1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus optional add-ons of 1 pound spicy sausage and 1 10-oz bag of fresh baby spinach.

spicy spinach sausage tomato sauce

If you're going to add sausage, start by cooking it first in a little olive oil, breaking it up as it cooks. When it's almost cooked through, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add a little more olive oil, then cook the onion for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and saute together for a couple minutes over medium heat. I added the bag of fresh spinach at this point, and stirred it till it was wilted evenly. Add the tomatoes, crushing by hand. Some of the user comments recommend keeping the tomato juice (which I did), or substituting with some combination of wine, chicken broth, etc. I think it depends on the cook time and what flavor you like. Basically you want a lot more liquid to start with than you think, so it can simmer and reduce down over the next hour or more. Season with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, oregano or basil if you have it (or dried if that's all you have available).

assembling pasta ricotta sauce

After the sauce has cooked down for an hour+, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot, tossing with a few tablespoons olive oil. Mix the pasta into the sauce carefully, then add the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

ready to bake pasta tomatoes olives sausage

Transfer to a large baking dish (or 2), then top with the shredded parmesan and chopped olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

baked pasta with tomatoes olives sausage

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