Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Occhi di Lupo con Bruschetta

Eyes of the Wolf with Peas, Mushrooms and Sausage & Bruschetta

As a kid and until recently, I have not been a pasta lover. Maybe it's too many heavy sauces or no name dried pasta I'm not sure. But if you need to be converted back to pasta, I advise 2 things 1) Try fresh pasta – there is nothing better and 2) make sauceless dishes – that's where all the flavour is. One of my favourite things about this dish (besides the tasty sausages) was how the peas got stuck inside the pastas and popped when you bit them. The pasta is a quick 2-pot meal and the bruschetta takes no time at all.

Pasta and Sauceless Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil, 1 lb Italian sausage, 1 cup mushrooms (sliced), 3/4 tsp sea salt, 3/4 tsp black pepper, 2 cups frozen peas, 1 lb dried pasta – choose a good quality one it makes a difference, 1/2 cup parmesan (grated)

Boil a large pot of water

Heat 2tbsp olive oil over high heat
Remove the sausage from the casings
Saute the sausage until golden brown breaking into small clumps ~ 5min
Set aside sausage, add 2 more tbsp of olive oil to pan

Add pasta to boiling water, we chose occhi di lupo (the eyes of the wolf!) though any small shape will do

Add mushrooms, 1/2 tsp of salt & pepper, saute until all liquid has evaporated ~8min
Add peas and saute ~2min
Return sausage to pan, heat through ~3min

Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, drain the pasta
Return the pasta to the pot

Over medium heat, add the meat mixture and enough of the water to moisten the mixture
Add the remaining olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper
Remove from heat, add parmesan and toss

This recipe started out in Giada's cookbook (Everyday Italian) but was transformed after a number of the original ingredients weren't available (farfalle became occhi di lupo), weren't as tasty (turkey sausage became italian) or were allergy-causing for some (parmesan became romano). Also we added 2-3x the peas originally called for and it was worth it.


Cut up a baguette in 1 – 1.5 inch slices and brush with olive oil.
Put in oven, on broil to dry out the bread a bit.
Mixture – chop up 4 ripe tomatoes in small pieces and dice lots of garlic (6 cloves), mix with some olive oil , red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped basil. It should look something like this:

Adapting the recipe to be your own is half the fun; the other half is figuring out what to do when things go wrong. All was well until the phrase "It's steamy in here, not smoky, right?" was uttered! This is what happens when you forget about the bread in the oven (the before).

But all was not lost, Meg went to work to salvage our overly blackened bread.

Happily, near disaster was turned into delicious (the after).

This meal was great! I am happy to report this serves about 10 portions, so some of us had seconds and all of us had lunch the next day. So if you are cooking solo or for a couple, keep this in mind or be sure to invite your hungry friends over to help with the cooking. One of the many advantages to Wednesday Dinners I enjoy most is sharing at least one meal a week with friends. Good Eating!


Meg said...

This was such a great meal Michelle! I could have eaten that bruschetta forever - oh the garlic! I don't think I've found a way to make tomatoes taste that good in non-summer months before. We'll have to make it again.

And the pasta was awesome. Definitely the hiding peas were the funnest part. But the flavours of the sausage, mushrooms, and peas together were so perfect.

And it's not really dinner if the smoke alarm doesn't go off...

Laura said...

I agree. Plenty of garlic is the way to go!

I was just reading this passage in 'Heat,' by Bill Buford (check out my previous post on this book on February 14, 2007), and I thought it pertained to the subject at hand:

"The thought [about why more people don't use pasta water in their pasta sauces] also made me curious about the moment in the history of American cooking when efficiency won out over taste and, instead of using a pair of tongs and pulling spaghetti straight out of the pot, people started using a colander (an evil instrument) and letting all that dense, murky, rich 'water' rush down the drain.

The practice is described in the original, 1931 edition of 'The Joy of Cooking,' in its 'Rules for Boiling Spaghetti, Macaroni, Creamettes and Noodles,' along with the even more alarming one of taking your colander full of spaghetti (rather mushy, since you've boiled it for an hour) or macaroni (easy to chew, after being boiled for twenty minutes) or creamettes (no longer a supermarket item, alas, but once the essential ingredient in a baked creamette loaf) and rinsing it in cold water - oh, heresy of heresies - just to make sure nothing is clinging to it."

Bill spares no vitriol for this practice, and I must admit I have been guilty of it in the past, and never really realized why pasta water was reserved and used in the sauce until last Wednesday!

Unbelievable. But now I know.