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Friday, November 2, 2012

Quick & Easy Cooking w/Bruce Tretter: Pasta w/Sausage & Fig Sauce

Pasta with Sausage & Fig Sauce

The sausage and fig sauce described here can be made in the time it takes to boil water and cook spaghetti, especially if you use packaged precooked sausage. I know fresh figs are seasonal and are sometimes tough to find. No problem. You can make this sauce using just about any fruit - apples, pears, peaches or plums will work just fine.

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients
(for 2-3)

½ Box or 8 Ounces Pasta
Salt
2 Handfuls Fresh Figs
3-4 Precooked Sausages (I like using sweet Italian or sun dried tomato chicken sausages for this sauce, but your favorite sausage will work fine)Italian Seasoning
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Olive or Vegetable Oil (I’m using the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
2-3 Garlic Cloves
1 Bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange bell peppers are more flavorful and sweeter than green
bell peppers)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Crushed Red Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

Equipment

10-12 Inch Frying Pan
Spatula
Medium Sized Pot
Large Knife
Cutting Board
Large Spoon
Colander
Tongs (to serve pasta - can also use a fork)
Timer

1. Fill a medium sized pot about half full with cold tap water. Put the pot on the stove, and turn on the burner to HIGH heat.

2. While the water warms, pull 2-3 garlic cloves from a fresh garlic bulb. Put 1 garlic clove at a time under the flat side of wide bladed (chef’s) knife, and use the heel of your hand to press down on the top flat side of the knife with enough pressure to break the garlic clove open to make peeling the garlic skin much easier. Peel the garlic skin. Then slice and chop the garlic into small pieces.

3. Prepare the fresh figs by first removing the stems. Then cut the figs in half lengthwise and cut them again in cross section into bite sized pieces.

4. Prepare the bell pepper by cutting the pepper in half lengthwise without cutting into the seed cluster in the middle of the pepper. Pull the pepper halves apart at the stem and remove the seed cluster. Cut each pepper half lengthwise into strips 1/4 - 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide, and then cut those strips in cross section into pieces also 1/4 - 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide.

5. Cut about a handful of sun dried tomatoes (estimate - you don’t have to measure them in your hand) into strips about 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide, and then cut those strips in cross section into pieces also about 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide.

6. Cut 3-4 precooked sausages in cross section into slices 1/4 - 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide.

7. Let the water come to a big bubble, rapid boil not just a small bubble, fizzy boil to help ensure the pasta cooks properly to desired doneness. When the water comes to a full boil, add a good shake of salt (optional but adds flavor to pasta) and ½ box or 8 ounces of pasta to the boiling water and stir until all the pasta is submerged in the boiling water.

8. Put the frying pan on the stove, and turn on the burner to MEDIUM heat.

9. Let the water in the pasta pot come back to a full boil. Then turn down the burner heat to MEDIUM to prevent the pot from boiling over, and cook until the timer sounds.

10. Put a colander in the sink, and check the frying pan for the proper cooking temperature by wetting your fingers with tap water and flicking the water onto the pan surface. The pan is warmed to the proper cooking temperature when the water sizzles on contact with the pan surface and quickly evaporates.

11. When the frying pan is properly warmed, add just enough olive or vegetable oil to coat the pan surface evenly (Here’s a quick tip. Instead of using a separate bottle of olive oil, I used a shot of oil from the sun dried tomato jar for a little added flavor). Then, right away, add the chopped garlic, bell pepper and sausage. Stir occasionally and cook for just a few minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Then add the chopped figs and sun dried tomatoes along with a good shake of Italian seasoning and shot of balsamic vinegar (optional but adds a rich sweet and sour flavor to the sauce).

12. When the timer for the pasta sounds, pour the pasta and hot water into the colander in the sink.

13. Stir the sauce occasionally until the bell peppers just start to soften but are still firm, not mushy, and the sauce looks about as shown in the picture below on the right.

14. Use tongs or a fork to put the freshly cooked pasta in a bowl (or onto a plate) and top with sauce.

15. Either have the pasta with sausage and fresh fig sauce as is or topped with your choice or combination of grated Parmesan cheese and/or crushed red pepper to taste.


For complete easy to follow step-by-step picture book directions, just go to the Gotta’ Eat, Can’t Cook website at www.gotta-eat.com. 

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