Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Onions And Peppers And Peas..Oh My.
When I first started this blog, I spoke a lot about inspiration. I'm still fascinated by what inspires each and every one of us to cook (or not cook) certain foods. These days I seem to be inspired by pretty much anything, and rightfully so, since I can't very well write about the same dish every day. But sometimes just the mention of an ingredient, color, or an idea gets something going in my mind. Last week, for example, I saw a beautiful photo of linguine with onions and peppers and thought, "Wow, that looks really good, someone's really going to enjoy it. But not me, because I hate peppers and onions in my pasta." I'm not quite sure why I never liked these two ingredients in pasta, but something about their cooked texture turns me off and I never really consider them as ingredients worth adding to noodles. But, the lovely photo got the best of me and the idea of using those flavors as a way to cook out of my comfort zone was embedded in my mind for the rest of the week.
So, I had to figure out a way to bring these two flavors into a pasta dish. I was having some trouble working out a recipe and after a week of blank stares into my recipe notebook I decided I'd try making something else. Finally settling on branching out by using sausage in the dish, I set off for the supermarket to do the month's food shopping (I usually plan way ahead). It was just my luck that as I went to pick up a few packages of chorizo I came across some lovely fresh sausage made right there in my supermarket. What was even more surprising was that they made their own flavored sausages, including...a pepper and onion sausage(!). It was the one solution I hadn't thought of, but it was perfect. I decided to add some peas and a few of the spices that I love for added flavor. I went with sage and fennel to echo some of the flavors already in the sausage, and made sure to toast the fennel seeds and leave them whole.
I didn't want to mask all of the lovely onion and pepper flavor that I'd been searching for with a heavy sauce, so I simply deglazed the pan with a splash of white wine and added a couple tablespoons of butter and a big ladleful of starchy pasta water. It was a nice and simple way to finish off the dish and give every flavor equal time. And best of all, the whole dish came together in about 20 minutes, and left me with plenty of food for lunch the next day. You can definitely use any type of noodle or pasta you'd like, but I wanted to experiment with something new for me, like pappardelle. Here's how to do it for yourself:
Pappardelle with Onion-Pepper Sausage and Peas
3 fresh onion and pepper sausages, cases removed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 Tbsp sage
1/4 Tbsp fennel seed, toasted
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 package pappardelle
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1. Heat oil in a large pan and add sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces. When it's half cooked, add garlic, fennel and sage.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook pasta.
3. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the wine to deglaze and scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the peas.
4. When the peas have warmed through, add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with a ladleful of pasta water (about 1/2 cup). Remove from the heat and stir in butter until melted. If the dish looks a bit dry, add more pasta water. Enjoy!