I know I’ve definitely been trending flexitarian lately, but duuuuuuuuude the smell of browning sausage…
So we bought local meat. Sweet!
Today was decidedly gloomy and then we had all these tomatoes and I went “pasta with sausage and tomato sauce!”
And then I got really excited BECAUSE I could make a bunch and then put tomato sauce in the freezer BECAUSE I start my Americorps job next week (had I mentioned that?) and as a result will be working crazy hours and coming home and not wanting to cook (well wanting to cook but lacking the wherewithal to do so without, probably, setting the house on fire).
So sausage. I removed the casing and gave it a chopsie.
And then coated my beloved Le Creuset with just a smidge of olive oil to prevent stickage and scorchage and we were off!
Ohhhhhhhh the smell.
Got that all browned, then dumped out most of the fat but left a bit to cook these beauties:
Browning sausage= awesome smell. Garlic and shallots cooked in sausage drippings= stupid stupid awesome smell.
The farm stand calls what they call “second tomatoes”- the leftovers abandoned under the tomato plants when all the sexy first tomatoes have already been claimed.
You know what I call them? CHEAP tomatoes! That taste just as good, particularly in sauce!
This one had a sunburst that I enjoyed.
Rounding out the tomato products was the remains of a can of organic tomatoes my mom opened to make lentils and rice. I kind of like the texture you get when you use a mix of fresh and canned, actually.
And then some cheap red wine. The only kind of red wine that is generally in my house.
Wine snob bloggers (who I, uh, kind of hate anyway) would sort of be horrified by the wine situation, actually. This cost about $9. It is red wine, but we’ve had it for… weeks? Actually, we’ve been keeping it in the refrigerator! We do it so it’ll turn into vinegar less quickly (which we have definitely had happen). And when you take it out to have a glass, all you need to do to take off the chill is microwave it! Hahahaha.
Anyway, all this stuff got thrown in the pan and then it was REAL FULL.
And I let it cook for awhile and it was still REAL FULL.
So it’s 7:30 at night and this process has been going on for… quite awhile.
And the sauce has somewhat alarmingly turned into separate layers of tomato chunks and tomato juice. LOTS of tomato juice.
So I get another pan, put it on high heat, and ladle out the tomato juice. I bring it to a boil, and I let it churn away, hoping it’ll start to thicken as the liquid evaporates.
And I’m hungry, and I’m looking at the pasta I’ve already gotten out to make, and I’m like… yknow…
And in it went!
And it TOTALLY WORKED! You do have to make sure the liquid doesn’t get too low, or the pasta will stick to the bottom.
BUT the pasta was totally delicious, imbued with the flavor of the wonderful ripe tomatoes, and hadn’t lost any of its nutrients to water that got poured down the sink…
AND what remained of the tomato juice after the pasta had cooked had thickened, likely with help from the starch in the pasta, into this absolutely beautiful liquid that melded beautifully into the remaining chunky sauce.
My moments of culinary genius always seem to happen by accident.
Anyway, the final sauce was beautiful and duh-lish…
And we sat down to a lovely dinner of pasta with sausage and tomato sauce
Accompanied by a simple salad of spinach and mushrooms.
This is one of those perfect Old World meals- you use the sausage for the wonderful flavor it gives you, but a small amount because meat is expensive. The meal is mostly grains and vegetables (plus in my case I used whole grain pasta). As an added bonus, as we now know, you get the complete protein of the meat but less of a wallop of saturated fat.
So we had about a third of the sauce with our pasta tonight and the rest of it went into storage:
A moment of sentimentality: after my parents got divorced, my mom had to go back to working full time, and had a pretty revolting commute home from DC every day. She came home from work exhausted and not real enthused about making dinner for her two (young!) kids.
Her parents lived in Alexandria, about a half-hour away from us. And had a key to our house. SO from time to time they would come to our house in the middle of the day, when everyone was gone from work, and drop off my grandmother’s delicious homemade food. We’d get home and there’d be, say, a bolognese sauce for pasta in the freezer, perhaps some homemade moussaka or another Greek specialty, and, for which my sister and I had a special appreciation, often homemade brownies on the counter!
So in making and then stockpiling delicious, nourishing comfort food for crazy nights when no one feels like cooking, I am carrying on in a very honorable tradition.