Sausage and Peppers Over Pasta

This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. Like much of my cooking, this is a wing-it recipe that does not require exact measurements for anything. I often make it when I have ingredients in the refrigerator that I need to use up fast. We now use local Italian sausage and Cavanna’s fettuccine or taglierini.

For Sauce:

Sauté one medium onion and two garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened. Add 1 35-oz. can of Italian plum tomatoes in sauce. (I prefer Cento brand, now available at Safeway.)

Bring to a low boil and then lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Along the way, add about 1 tablespoon each of dried basil and dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.

In summer, you can always use fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely, or a combination of fresh and canned. For the full recipe, you would need about four pounds of tomatoes, and a mix of varieties makes for a very flavorful sauce. You could even halve cherry or grape tomatoes and cook them down also.

When available, always opt for fresh herbs too — just add in nearer the end of the cooking time. And feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste if you like.

For Peppers:

Sauté 1 medium onion and 1 medium fennel bulb, both trimmed and peeled of outer layers and sliced into thin slices, in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Core and peel 2–3 sweet peppers, preferably several colors of peppers, and add them to the onions and fennel. Sauté for another 5–10 minutes until the vegetables are softened but still have a bite.

For Sausage:

Cook your favorite hot or sweet Italian sausage as you normally would but end up with the sausage sliced into ¼-inch slices and tossed in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until slightly browned. Remove sausage from the pan and deglaze it with ¼ cup of good red wine and add the mixture to the tomato sauce. Then add sausage to the sauce.

All of these steps can be done almost simultaneously or can be made in advance and reheated for the final presentation.

Cook one pound pasta according to package directions and drain. Divide among four (or up to six) plates or pasta bowls and top with sauce and then with peppers. Sprinkle with good Parmesan cheese and enjoy! Really enjoy!