Pasta with Roasted Tomato and Sausage
I'm in a sort of heaven: having made myself a bucket of Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, I get to use them in all sorts of fun concoctions. The best part is the new life and flavor they give to some of the old standbye preparations in my kitchen, not to mention the perfume they put out when warming on the stove.
Last night it was that most basic of pasta sauces, sausage and tomato. The sweet, complex flavor of the tomatoes breathed new energy into this old warhorse, and it didn't hurt that I had two really high-quality sausage varieties in the freezer, waiting for the right moment to emerge. One was the fresh sweet Italian sausage flavored delicately with fennel that I've mentioned several times before. Our wonderful local Italian specialty store, Enoteca, gets this from Little Italy in Manhattan.
The other sausage was a superb Boudin Blanc I found in the case at Savenour's Market the last time I was in Boston. Boudin Blanc is a sort of meat pudding in a natural casing, made with finely ground chicken and pork and including cream, egg whites, onions and garlic. This version was made by Fabrique Délices in California and was delicately flavored with cognac.
With something good coming together in my kitchen, I gave a little time to the selection of the pasta, finally chosing filei calabresi, an interesting shape made rolling irregular sheets of pasta manually around an iron form (ferretto). The version I had was made by La Bottega della Pasta. These little irregular rolls had all sorts of nooks and crannies to hold the sauce, and the stretched surface had a reasonably thirsty approach to absorption, so the pasta and sauce married up well.
The sauce itself was very simply made, and with some shredded Parmeggiano Reggiano, a side salad and a ciabbatta from Beach Pea and we were in a little pleasure zone all our own.
Roasted Tomato Sausage Pasta
(Serves 2 healthy eaters with leftovers, or 4 as a pasta course in a meal.)
8 oz filei calabresi or other dried pasta
6 C Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, with juice
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
4 T basil, minced
4 links sausage of choice
salt, hot sauce to taste
Warm the tomatoes in a heavy skillet or sauté pan large enough to eventually hold all the ingredients.
Simmer the sausages until nearly completely cooked, then cut in 1/4" disks and sauté to brown. Drain and set aside.
Sauté the onion slowly in olive oil, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook another minute. Scrape the onions, garlic and oil into the tomatoes. Add 2/3 of the basil and correct the seasoning. Remove from heat.
Cook the pasta al dente (which takes surprisingly long if you are using filei calabresi...almost 20 minutes) in salted water. Turn the heat up under the sauce and with tongs lift the pasta directly into the sauce, allowing a little of the pasta water to ride along. Add the sausage and sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring and turning all the pasta so it is well-coated wih the sauce. Serve immediately, with a scattering of the reserved basil on top and some shredded or shaved Parmeggiano Reggiano on the side.