SURPRISE, another tomato recipe. But get this, canned tomatoes, not fresh. I know I've been telling you about my garden and how great fresh tomatoes are at this time of the year, but I had to use canned tomatoes for a stew last week and I had some leftover and I love to create meals using leftovers. So, tonight was mystery pasta. I had rigatoni in my pantry. I had Italian sausage in my freezer. I had canned chopped tomatoes in the frig, fresh basil in the garden and some new spices from Penzey's that I wanted to try. Let me know what you think of this last minute creation. It took about 45 mins to prepare.
I took 3 links of Italian sausage out of the freezer when I got home from work around 4pm. I started cooking at 6:30, so the sausages were still partly frozen, making it easy to cut thin slices. I sauteed them in a little olive oil and set them aside. I chopped 2 cloves of garlic and cooked it with a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. I really let the garlic sweat, without turning color. Sometimes I took the pan off the heat, for a few seconds, so the garlic would not burn. Once the garlic started to perfume, I added 1/2 cup of white wine. We usually keep several whites in the outside refrigerator. The Chardonnay happened to be the opened bottle. Any white will do. I let the wine reduce by half and then added the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon of Penzey's (a spice store in B'ham, but also available online) Tuscan Garden (it's a mix of thyme, oregano, basil, and other Italian herbs) I let this simmer for about 20 minutes on medium. Make sure it does not evaporate too much. I'm really looking for a little thicker sauce than just chopped tomatoes. After 20 or 25 mins. it was done. I added 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream (I know, so bad!)But every now and then a splurge is in order. Stir cream into tomato mix and cook on low heat while you cook the pasta.
Heat a 5 quart pot of water to a boil. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 cups of dried rigatoni. I really thought I was going to use penne, but I found the rigatoni first. On any given day, I have anywhere from 6-8 different dried pastas on hand. Did I tell you I was Italian....
Stir the pasta and let the water come back to a boil. Usually another 5 minutes to come back and then stir about every 3-4 minutes until the pasta is al dente. This is so important. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PASTA. It should have a slight bite to it. 2 cups of dried pasta should take about 8-10 minutes to cook. I always snag one out of the pot to try. Before I drain the cooked pasta, I scoop out 1/2-1 cup of pasta water. This will help thin the sauce if it's too thick. Drain the pasta and add to large skillet with the tomato cream mixture. Stir to combine and let cook about 1 minute on high to mix everything together. This made 4 good size portions.
I plated the pasta and topped with freshly grated Parmesan and some torn fresh basil (from the garden). Serve immediately. This could be served with a small salad and a piece of garlic bread for a complete meal. ENJOY, or should I say "MANGIA".