I had been on the road for four days doing recruiting for the University. While I love that the University pays for my meals (and there were some good ones, including Indian food), I really was in need of a home cooked meal last night. I was also exhausted, so I didnt want too much prep work. I chose a recipe from the Chicken cookbook by Williams Sonoma. It is called Pasta Rustica with Chicken Sausage and Three Cheeses. It was the perfect balance of comfort food and healthy eating. I substituted some healthier choices (I have lost 6 pounds in the past three weeks) and it still came out deliciously. I had a glass of saugvignon blanc with the meal; it paired quite nicely. The pasta baked well and got crusty on top; it became hard not to start picking at the top pieces once it came out of the oven!
Pasta Rustica with Chicken Sausage and Three Cheeses
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb. chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed (I used lowfat sweet turkey sausage)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes in puree, tomatoes coarsely chopped and puree reserved
Salt, to taste
1 lb. penne pasta (I used Dreamfields)
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese (I used fat free and it melted and tasted nicely)
2 cups shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I used Romano)
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into bite-size pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Stir in the basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and puree and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt. Preheat an oven to 350oF. Lightly oil a baking dish. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add the pasta, stir well and cook until barely al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, the ricotta and fontina. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.Bake until the cheeses are melted and the tips of the pasta are crusty, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.