Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Recipe: Pepperonata with Penne and sausage

OK, this is a homeschooling blog, so you're saying "Why is she posting a recipe?" WELL....for one thing, homeschoolers (or at least the ones I know....) often find themselves at 4 in the afternoon saying "Oh, what am I going to make for dinner?" And this, 4pm thought, is the FIRST time they've thought of it all day. D'oh.

So, this recipe is GREAT for homeschoolers, because it seriously takes 20 minutes.


I have made this recipe a half dozen times in the last year, and I LOVE it. Yesterday, I was excited ALL day knowing that this was what's for dinner. Another bonus? It's got peppers in it. My kids don't like peppers...or so they would tell you, but they eat this up like there is no tomorrow. Another tip? When I make it, I dice up twice as much peppers as a I need, and freeze half. Next time I make it, I won't have to dice peppers at all.

This is from a book, I can't take any credit for the inception of this phenomena. My fabulous mother-in-law gave me a book called "Desperation Dinners: Home Cooked Meals for Frantic Families in 20 Minutes Flat"....she brought this to me when she came just before Four was born. Think she had an idea of what life would be like "after?" She is a mother of 5 after all.

Anyway, on to the recipe:
2 cups penne (I use whole wheat)
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 links Italian sausage (3/4-1lb total)
1 large onion
1 medium green, red, and yellow pepper
1 can diced or whole tomatoes (I've only ever used diced)
2 tbls light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tbls balsalmic or red wine vinegar (I've only ever used balsalmic)
4 bay leaves (I've made it with and w/out, I would say these are optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Grated parm cheese (optional)

1. Place the penne in 2 1/2 quarts of already boiling unsalted water, cook until tender (11-13 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in an extra-deep 12 inch nonstick skillet that has a lid. Pierce the sausages several times with a fork and add them to the skillet. (I personally cut the links up into large pieces instead of leaving them whole..but that's personal preference.) Let brown, turning the links occasionally while peeling and slicing the onion. Add the onion to the pan as you slice, seperating it into strips. (Again, out of personal preference, I dice the onion, and also the peppers....the smaller the pieces the less likely my kids are to ask questions LOL.)
3. Seed the peppers and cut into long strips about 1/2 inch wide. Add them to the skillet, stir, cover the skillet and raise the heat to high. Keeping the skillet covered as much as possible, add the tomatoes with their juice, the brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaves and basil. Stir well. Bring mixture to a boil.
4. Lower the heat to medium-high and boil until the sausage is no longer pink in the middle and the veges are tender but not mush, about 7 minutes, uncovering to stir occasionally.
5. Drain the penne and place some of each on each serving plate. Season the sausage mixture with salt and black pepper and top each pasta portion with some of the sauce, making sure to discared the bay leaves. (Another variation, I drain the penne and then add it to the skillet with the sauce.)

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