Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Tribute to Pasta and Recipe Spotlight: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Spicy Sausage

Today I'm taking a reminiscent walk down a cobblestone lane to beautiful Italy, the land of pasta. Have you ever wondered how Italians can eat pasta every day but manage to stay so thin? The first reason is because they walk everywhere, which also happens to be the best way to view each city. The other reason is because they don't douse their food in fatty, greasy ingredients like American Italian restaurants do. The best Italian food features relatively few high-quality ingredients that make the main dish- the noodle- shine. There really is nothing better than a big bowl of fresh pasta tossed with perfectly ripe tomatoes, fresh slivered garlic, a splash of white wine and pure extra-virgin olive oil. Italian pasta e magnifico!

Pasta Bolognese from Trattoria Zaza in Florence. A rich, meaty pork ragu, garlic, and onions adorn fresh tagliatelle noodles for a bowl of warmth and comfort. 

My Easter lunch of Spaghetti allla Vongole at Trattoria Garibaldi in Florence was simple and delicious. Homemade spaghetti topped with steamed clams, cherry tomatoes, white wine and garlic. See how yellow the noodles are? That's fresh, chewy, flavorful homemade pasta made with egg yolks and lots of love!

A memorable meal at a local restaurant in the Cinque Terre village of Vernazza. The Cinque Terre region is known for pesto and white wine, I enjoyed both with this meal! The pesto was bright and creamy with hints of garlic and lemon, and the pasta featured fresh green beans and potatoes for an interesting and delicious twist. I ate every bite!

Recipe Spotlight: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Spicy Sausage
Creamy sauce, spicy sausage and fresh vegetables combined with hot pasta. 
Serves 2

1/3 lb. Spaghetti
1 1/2 c. prepared spaghetti sauce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
3 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley, optional

Set large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil. Salt generously and cook pasta 1-2 minutes shy of package directions for "al dente." 

Meanwhile, preheat large skillet over medium heat. Remove casing from sausage and cook with crushed red pepper flakes until almost done. Drain on paper towels. Place skillet back on medium heat and add olive oil.

Add green pepper, onion, zucchini, salt and pepper to hot olive oil in skillet. Saute for 5-8 minutes until veggies are soft. Add drained sausage back to pan along with the spaghetti sauce. Lower heat to low and heat through.

Add al dente pasta to tomato sauce mixture and use tongs to combine. Place pasta on two plates and top with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired. Serve with hot garlic bread. Dig in!

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

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