We had this super simple, light yet really satisfying pasta the other night that really drives home the point that a few well placed ingredients can combine to produce something really special. I saw it on Mark Bittman's bittenblog at the NYT site. It defines his whole minimalsit ethos. I added some baby spinach to the recipe because it seemed it needed a little extra lift, and it worked perfectly. Arugula would also give it a nice peppery lift. If you ever want to make something quick that I promise the whole family will get with, this is it!
Sorry about the lame-ass photo. I was so hungry that night I just kind of dumped and shot!
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Pasta With White Sausage Sauce
adapted from Mark Bittman/ The New York Times
yield 4 servings
time 20 minutes
Mark Bittman's summary: "You can make this sauce stronger or more complex by adding a touch of minced garlic to the butter as it melts, or by using wine -- especially red wine -- as the liquid." (I used red wine and it was perfect! I was worried it might be too "winey", but it combined beautifully. -bb)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage (if using link sausage, remove it from the casing)
1/2 cup water, white wine or red wine
1 pound cut pasta like ziti
2 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and drained
1/2 cup or more freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
2. Put the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. As it melts, crumble the sausage meat into it, making the bits quite small, 1/2 inch or less. Add the liquid, and adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers gently.
3. Cook the pasta until it is tender but not at all mushy. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
4. Drain the pasta, and dress with the sauce, adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid if necessary. Toss with spinach, salt, pepper and Parmesan, and serve. Variations: There are a couple of ways you can make this sauce stronger or more complex. A touch of minced garlic added to the butter as it melts helps a lot. A handful of parsley thrown in at the last minute contributes freshness and color. Another interesting twist is to use wine — especially red wine — as the liquid. The wine's astringency perfectly offsets the sweet richness of butter and meat.
Cook's note: Bittman called for ziti pasta. I would use regular penne rigate or farfalle instead the next time. The ziti's smooth surface did nothing to hold the light sauce.