Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers and Olives

I often wonder how I was able, in some deep, dark past, to put together relatively elaborate meals on any given week night. Of course, it has a lot to do with not working full time back then. Now quicker, simpler things have a much better chance getting on the table, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not even so much a matter of not having enough time for bigger spreads as it is not having enough energy. Something tells me that other busy folks, especially parents of young children, feel similarly.

That’s where this delicious but easy dish comes in. While I don’t think it would be an quick sell to hungry kids, especially if you use a spicy Italian sausage, it’s got a good chance of keeping us drained adults going, while not taking that much time and energy. This is simply pasta with sausage and peppers, but with some big flavor boost from olives (any kind will do, but I like Kalamata or other “fancy” olives) and feta cheese.

This is one of those recipes for which you don’t really need a recipe. In fact, last time I made it, I could not find any printed or electronic version of what I had always done and, though it had been a long time since I made it, I remembered the recipe pretty well. (I did eventually find a battered printout and my memory got me pretty close to the original!) And once you’ve made it a few times, you’ll know what you want to add and/or take away to make it more suited to your tastes or to what you tend to have on hand.

Really, I just need this kind of thing in front of me in recipe form to remind myself of the idea that spicy sausage, bell peppers, briny olives and funky feta are a great combination. And that they take just a little of my precious time and energy to throw together with pasta for a simple but satisfying supper.

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers and Olives
Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2003

8 ounces uncooked short pasta, such as orecchiette, farfalle, penne or shells
8 ounces spicy Italian sausage (remove from casing if not purchased in bulk)
olive oil, if needed
3 cups bell pepper (any color; a mix is nice), cut into short, ¼ wide strips
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup chopped pitted olives
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup or so of cooking water, and keep warm.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking apart, until just browned. Add the peppers and continue cooking until the peppers are lightly browned and tender-crisp and the sausage is fully cooked. If the sausage has little fat and the pan is getting too dry to keep the sausage and peppers from sticking, add some olive oil as needed.

3. Stir in the garlic, oregano and olives. Cook about 2 minutes. Add the hot cooked pasta and feta cheese. Pour in some of the reserved pasta cooking water if desired to moisten. Toss together and cook until warmed through.

Makes about 4 servings.

One year ago: Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

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