Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rotini With Sausage and Broccoli

An easy, but satisfying pasta dish that anyone can make.

Rotini Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
Rotini with Sausage and Broccoli
The essence of any pasta dish is it's simplicity, and the quality of the ingredients. Often the less you do with it the better. This dish is based on three main elements, each prepared simply. When combined correctly, they make something more than the sum of their parts.

Rotini with Sausage and Broccoli


1 lb Dried Rotini Pasta

1/2 lb Broccoli (frozen or fresh - fresh is better, frozen will still work)

4 (approx) links of Sweet Italian Sausage

2-3 Tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Salt

Black Pepper (to taste)

1 clove garlic (minced)

1Tbsp Dried Parsley Flakes (optional)

1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Timing is everything with Pasta so you'll want to prep your broccoli and remove your sausages from the casing first, then start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta, then start making the actual sausage and broccoli condiment- your water should get to a boil around when you've finished the bulk of your work.

Step 1- Prepare your Broccoli and Sausage for cooking - If you are using fresh broccoli you'll need to cut it into bite-sized pieces, and blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute and set aside. If you are using frozen broccoli, it is probably already in small of enough pieces, you'll just want to defrost it in the microwave before you begin. For the Sausage- remove the sausage from the casing and break it up into small pieces.

Step 2- In a large pot bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you do not have to measure the water exactly, just take a pot big enough to handle the pasta and fill it about 3/4) You'll want to add at least a tablespoon of salt to the water (conventional wisdom says it should taste like seawater- I usually opt for less). While waiting for the water to boil, you can continue on with the recepie.

Step 3- Take a large saucepan (non-stick) over medium-high heat- coat the bottom with olive oil (about 1 tbsp) When hot (you should see the oil shimmer slightly) add the Sausage. Let the sausage brown on all sides. Remove sausage from pan and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Pour off any excess oil/
grease left in the pan but leave any of the brown goodies you find on the bottom.

Step 4 - Put about a tablespoon of fresh olive oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom) and bring up to medium heat. Toss the broccoli in the oil, add salt and black pepper to taste and saute until it softens and begins to brown- add in the garlic, and add remaining oil if the broccoli looks dry (it should have a light coating of oil). Continue to saute about another minute.

Step 5 - Add the Sausage back into the pan with the broccoli, and the parsley and red pepper (if desired both are optional). Toss everything together until mixed and everything is lightly coated in oil. Leave everything in the pan over low heat (stirring occasionally) until the pasta is ready.

Step 6 - By now, the pasta water should be boiling- drop in your pasta and cook until al dente (cooked through but still firm in the middle) - the timings listed on the box for most premium brands of pasta are usually accurate, less expensive brands tend to give timings that leave the pasta overcooked - so use your judgment and taste a piece of pasta before what the box recommends just in case! We will cook the pasta a little more with the sausage and broccoli mixture, so it's OK if the pasta is a touch undercooked. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta.

Step 7 - Check your Sausage and Broccoli mixture if it looks dry add in a little of the pasta water, about 1 teaspoon at a time until everything looks moist again and has a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Put the dranied pasta in the pan with the Sausage and Broccoli and toss it together for about 1-2 minutes.

Serve Immediately! Top with grated cheese and/or parsley as desired.

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