I can’t believe it’s already November! It seems like just yesterday I was excited about the first chives of spring peeking out of my herb pot. Now most of the farmers’ markets are done for the year and there is the possibility of snow in many areas (in fact, it snowed in Eastern Canada yesterday!). However, there is still a lot of seasonal cooking we can do and as we get cozy, our menus become more hearty and warming.
This easy pasta dish is rich and filling but you can use evaporated milk in place of cream to lighten the sauce a bit. Lean sausages also work but make sure not to overcook them or they will become dry. You can also use whole wheat penne instead of white if you’d prefer. It’s perfect after a vigorous autumn hike or day of raking leaves.
Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed
Makes 6 servings
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
- Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional – if tomatoes are very acidic)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
- Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
- In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
- Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
- Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
- In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.