Quick & Easy Pasta Dinner

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while! My job has been quite demanding and we’re in the process of creating a new product.  Anyways, I made this pasta dish for my boyfriend’s family gathering to watch the Mayweather v.s. Pacquiao fight on May 2nd.  I had to give it to Mayweather for being a smart fighter, but Pacquiao could have beat him easily without a doubt.  I made cheesy spicy italian sausage pasta with zucchini and peppers!  I would have made a quick homemade tomato and alfredo sauce, but I was running a little late to the family gathering so I resorted to already jarred pasta sauces.  With everyone’s busy lives nowadays, an extra 30 minutes to make homemade sauce is sometimes not an option, but hey it still came out extra nommy! This makes two huge platters full, so if you just want a family style dinner portion please cut the recipe in half. Here is an image of all the ingredients I used:

Pasta Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 Box of Pasta

1 Jar of Tomato Sauce (I used Sweet Basil)

1 Jar of Alfredo Sauce

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

~ 1.5 Cups of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

However much Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (shredded)

1-1.5 tsp thyme and/or sage (chopped)

~8 Spicy Italian Sausages (without casing)

4 cloves of garlic (use as much as you want)

1 medium white onion (or whatever you have on hand)

3 small balls of fresh mozzarella (chopped up into cubes)

3 zucchini & peppers or any vegetables (chopped)

Here I used a wok to cook the pasta dish, due to the large amount of food I was making for the party.  If you are halving the recipe or cooking a smaller portion, you can use any kitchen pan you’d like! I’m all for prepping before hand and multi-tasking in the kitchen.  So before I had chopped up and prepared all the ingredients, that way I can just focus on only cooking and cleaning in between cooking times.  I believe it’s all about time management, efficiency, and thinking ahead when cooking in the kitchen.  Any who, before I prepared cooking the sausages I had a huge pot, salted the boiling water, and followed the pasta box directions. Additionally, stir it occasionally & I like to add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pot of pasta, because it helps the pasta not stick when you drain it.

Sautéing Spicy Sausages

First, I removed the casing off the sausages so I could brown them to release all the spices inside the sausages and to add an extra layer of flavor to the pasta. Cook the sausages on medium heat, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon and this should take about 10-15 minutes. Secondly, you can add the chopped up onion in here.  Here is how it should look like after ~10 minutes:

Half cooked sausages

Once you add the onion, sauté it for about 5 minutes and add about 2-3 grinds of salt (I have salt and pepper grinders).  The reason you want to add the salt to the onions is 1. to build flavor especially every time you add a new ingredient to the dish.  2. to sweat the onions, so they can break down and release their deliciousness.

Sausages with Garlic

5 minutes later, you can add the chopped up garlic. and add ~3 grinds of pepper or however much you like.  You should constantly be stirring and continue breaking up the sausages. By now, you should check the level of your heat and if it seems like it’s too hot (smoking and burning the onions/sausages) you should lower the heat to medium-low or low heat.  By now, the sausage should be 95% cooked, you should increase the heat to medium and add your chopped up zucchini.

20150502_111530

After adding the zucchini, add ~ 3 grinds of salt & pepper.  Zucchini takes about 10 minutes to cook, when you see the meat becoming slightly transparent it’s cooked. Another way is to just eat one, and cook it until it’s to your desired texture! Halfway through the zucchini cooking time, I added in chopped peppers I figured I should use up in the fridge. The reason I added these later, because the cooking time of peppers is shorter than the zucchini.

added peppers

By now your pasta should be done and ready to be drained.  Before you drain it, remember to SAVE THE PASTA WATER.  You can use this to thicken your pasta sauce, since it has the pasta starch in it & will add flavor.  You can set the pasta water and drained pasta aside. If you wanted to turn this into a baked pasta dish, add a cheesy Parmigiano Reggiano bread crumb topping, you should drain the pasta a few minutes shy of being al dente.  Since it will finish cooking in the oven while absorbing the yummy pasta sauce. I went with that, but didn’t add the breadcrumb topping, because I ran out of time and had to head over to the party.

Next, you can add your jarred sauces, chopped thyme, 3-4 grinds of salt & pepper depending on how you like it.  Once you add the sauces, lower your heat to prevent splattering or else you could easily get burned.  Also, after adding the sauce, you can use your wooden spoon and scrap up all the brown bits from when you browned the sausages.  This will add extra layers of flavor; continue stirring everything until it’s combined.  Here you can taste if you need more seasoning, once you’re satisfied you can add your pasta.  Continue stirring until the sauce is set in the little grooves of the pasta and its all combined.  After all of that, you can turn to medium-low heat and add your shredded cheeses.  I absolutely LOVE cheese, so I added a lot.  You can add however much you’d like and whatever types of cheeses you’re little heart desires!

final pasta dish

After putting the pasta in the trays, I put the cubed up fresh mozzarella on top, so when it bakes in the oven (covered @ 350-375° F for about 10 minutes) it will get all gooey and cheesy! I hope you all found this recipe easy to follow, leave your comments and tips below. I’ll also gladly take any suggestions too 😀

 

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