Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fettucini with Sausage and Broccolini

Guess what?! I learned a new skill!

It involves a fancy machine, paper cones, and sugar.

Know what it is?

Ok, here's your last hint- I can now run off and join the circus.

That's right, I have mastered the art of cotton candy making! We got a new machine at work for a special event the hotel was hosting, so I had to learn how to use it. And now I am totally becoming a Carnie.

But before I go, I'm making this dinner again. Because it was shockingly good. Who knew pasta with no sauce could be this delicious?

I'm not a no-sauce kind of girl. When people just throw pasta water on their noodles and call it a day, I scoff. But with the strong flavors of the sausage and caramelized onions, the nice fresh pasta, and the generous portions of cheese and olive oil, I really didn't miss it. It probably didn't hurt that I didn't drain any of the fat off after cooking the sausage. I am just SUCH a rebel. Barnum & Bailey will love me.

Don't be afraid of the broccolini. It's very similar to broccoli (obviously) but has smaller florets and thinner stalks and is actually a little sweeter. It's a good way to fancy up a dinner without having to worry if your guests will like what you're serving. To prep it, I usually just wash it, remove any green leaves, and cut the very end off the stalk.

Fettucini with Sausage and Broccolini
Yield: Serves 2

olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 links Italian sausage, removed from the casing
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock; or white wine
2 cups broccolini, chopped to 1'' pieces
4-5 ounces fresh fettucini
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Place a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Fill a pot large enough to hold the pasta and broccolini with water. Add about a tablespoon of salt and place the pot over medium heat.
2. Add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Continue to cook the onions, stirring often, until they are nicely caramelized, about 8 minutes more. If the pan becomes dry, add more olive oil. If the onions are browning on the edges but not caramelizing nicely, lower the heat. 
3. Once the onions are nicely caramelized, add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Push the onions to one side of the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Also raise the heat under the pot of water to high. Add more olive oil to the onion pan. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Once it is mostly browned but not cooked through, stir it together with the onions and garlic. Add the crushed red pepper and thyme. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the sausage is cooked through.
5. Add the stock or wine to the pan. As it bubbles, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.
6. Bring the pot of water to a boil if it isn't already. Add the broccolini and boil until not quite fork tender, about 5 minutes (Test it with a fork. You should be able to pierce it pretty easily but it would still be too tough to eat). Add the fresh pasta and continue to boil another 2-3 minutes, until al dente. Turn off the heat and add about 3 Tbsp of pasta water to the pan with the onions and sausage. Drain the pasta and broccolini into a colander.
7. Add the pasta and broccolini to the pan with the sausage. Toss to combine. Add grated cheese and a splash more of olive oil (1-2 Tbsp). Toss to coat and serve warm.

Recipe Notes
  • You can use whatever kind of sausage you would like- turkey, pork, chicken, etc. 
  • I used a sweet pork sausage so I added about 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes because I wanted it a little spicy. If you're using a spicy sausage, or just want a little less heat, use just 1/4 tsp pepper flakes or omit them all together.
  • You can easily substitute dried pasta for fresh. Just be sure to read the package instructions for the cooking time. You may need to start boiling the pasta before adding the broccolini to the pot so they are both done at the same time.


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