This isn’t the first recipe I thought I was going to post (I’m still working on my Chicken Marsala recipe, hopefully I will post that next!), but it was so delicious, I had to share!
Last night, my husband and I had one of our best friends over for dinner. We hadn’t been able to see her for far too long. Her birthday is a few days before Christmas, which is hard because we are always too busy to celebrate. So, this year, since we were almost a month late, we tried to make it extra special! I found a recipe on Pinterest for a similar pasta dish, but I don’t like following recipes, so I developed this recipe and decided to try it out. I’ve been able to accumulate enough recipes for a cookbook by making every recipe I find my own. There is always room to tweak and change in cooking. Baking is a little less fluid, which is probably why I am so bad at baking!
I love making pasta dishes when I am entertaining. Not only is it something that most people like, it is also very versatile. If someone doesn’t eat gluten, there are some delicious gluten-free pastas on the market. My mother-in-law can’t eat wheat or dairy, so I have served quinoa pasta! Our dear friend that visited last night has no allergies or aversions, so I just used regular pasta. This recipe could easily be altered for taste or dietary restrictions.
I like to try to start prepping before I cook. I generally don’t have everything chopped and measured out before I start, but getting a head start definitely makes the cooking process less stressful. So, before I put a flame to anything, I did my chopping: one large sweet onion, thinly sliced; 10-12 mini sweet peppers, cored and thinly sliced (I did a trio of different colored peppers, but that’s not necessary for a delicious dish. You could also use 2-3 bell peppers instead); and 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
Don’t these peppers look delcious? Perfect brightness to cut through the gloomy weather we’ve been having.
Once the chopping has been taken care of, I start cooking! I put a large pot on medium-high heat (a large deep skillet would also work well). Brown and crumble the sausage in the pot until cooked through. I didn’t crumble it into too small of pieces, I like bigger chunks of meat in my pasta dishes. Once the sausage is browned and cooked, remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
After the sausage has been removed, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, depending on how much oil is left from the sausage. There needs to be enough for the onions, garlic and peppers without everything getting dried out. Once the oil is added and warm, add the onion. At this point, I turned back the heat a little, so that the onions don’t burn. Caramelized onions can take a little patience, but they are well worth it! One trick I have is adding a pinch of salt in with the onions, since it helps draw out some of the moisture.
At this point, I got a pot of water going for the pasta. It seems like it takes forever for water to boil, especially when you’re excited to eat the finishing product! While waiting for the onions to caramelize is a good time to measure out the wine, open the can of tomatoes, and get the cheese ready.
This is what I wanted the onions to look like: slightly brown, translucent in places, and with enough oil left for more cooking. Now, it’s time to add the salt, pepper and basil. I also added the peppers at this point. I made sure everything was coated with oil and spices, and cook the peppers until slightly tender, which will take a few minutes. Once the peppers are a little tender, I add the garlic, and stir it in. It won’t take long before it becomes aromatic, and once it is, I add the wine and let it cook until almost completely reduced. If you don’t like cooking with alcohol, you can certainly use chicken broth instead, and it will still be delicious! Then, I added the tomatoes (don’t drain them) and the cooked sausage. Stir it around, and it will look like this:
Let it simmer for a few minutes. By now, the pasta water should be boiling, so I cooked the pasta according to package directions until al dente. When the pasta is done, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce, along with 1/3 to 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add half cup of the cheese, and stir until the cheese has completely melted and everything is completely mixed together. Drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce. Toss together. This took me a little time because I wanted to make sure all the noodles were covered with sauce and all the tasty bits of meat and veggies were dispersed throughout the dish.
Between the three of us, we almost ate the whole thing! The recipe definitely serves more than 3, but we were all hungry and it was SO GOOD!
If you need a pasta dish that’s a little special, really comforting and tasty, give this a try!
Saucy Fettuccine with Sausage, Sweet Peppers, and Caramelized Onions
1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 bell peppers (or 10-12 mini sweet peppers), thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (I used Sherry) or chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can stewed or diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pound fettuccine or other long-cut pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1. Place a large pot or large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Brown and crumble sausage in the pan until cooked through. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the sausage drippings in the pan. Add the onions and half the salt and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are starting to brown and become caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water for the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.
3. Once the onions are caramelized, add the remaining salt, pepper, basil, and the sweet peppers. Stir until everything is coated in oil and spices and cook until the peppers are slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir until fragrant, about a minute.
4. When the garlic is fragrant, add the wine. Simmer until the wine is almost completely reduced and incorporated. Add the tomatoes and reserved sausage. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining oil and 1/3 to 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Stir to combine.
5. When pasta is done, stir in half of the cheese, then add the pasta. Toss to combine, making sure the sauce is evenly distributed. Top individual servings with remaining cheese. Serve with bread and a salad, if desired.