Thursday, April 2, 2009
Refuge From The Storm
Spring is so fickle. I looked out my kitchen window yesterday and saw pink blossoms on my neighbor's tree, yellow blossoms on the forsythia, and snow coming down in gentle but relentless waves. This is the kind of insane weather that makes me want to go back to bed, curl up under the covers, and read a book. So I did. But when I finished the book, it was still snowing. Euwww. I'm done with winter - I want shorts and tank tops and flip flops!
Oh well, while it's cold and dreary out, I might as well make the most of it and bake up something warm, gooey, delicious, and comforting. I tried out a new recipe from Fine Cooking and it was everything that was promised and more. Comfort food at its finest!
Note: I have to explain that I don't do well with pictures of dinner foods. Baked treats I can take photos of anytime, but dinner has to be while it's warm, which is also when my family is hungry and they're circling me like a pack of hyenas waiting to pounce on a carcass, whining, "Mutherrrrr, when can we eat? I'm staaaaaarving!" So, I lay the blame for poor photos squarely on them. And someday I'll learn to take better photos and let them off the hook.
Baked Penne with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Sausage
- adapted from Fine Cooking
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from its casing and crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry red wine
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, or 1-1/3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lb. dried penne pasta
1/2 lb fresh mozarella, cut into small cubes
1- Heat oven to 425 deg. F. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2- In a large skillet, heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage and saute until the sausage starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. If the sausage gives off a lot of fat, pour off most of it, but leave a little to add flavor to the sauce.
3- Add the red wine and let it boil until it's almost gone. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices and cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Add the marjoram or oregano and taste for seasoning.
4- Meanwhile, cook the penne until al dente. Drain well.
5- In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, about 1/2 the grated parmesan, the nutmeg, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
6- Toss the penne with the ricotta mixture until well coated. Add the sausage and sauce and mix again. Add the mozzarella and toss gently. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top. Bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve right away.
Makes 4 generous servings.