August 4, 2011

Penne with Smashed Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese

With countless days of 100+ degree heat and summer colds rotating throughout our house I can safely say that preparing dinner has not been a top priority over the past few weeks.  Finally last night, after weeks of takeout, sandwiches, and pizza I hit my breaking point with the cooking boycott and surrendered to the kitchen. With comfort food in mind I turned to my pitifully stocked pantry and refrigerator for inspiration. Comfort food translates into different things for different people, but for me a nice starchy carb usually gets the job done. With a box of pasta, some chicken sausage and frozen peas I was able to throw this meal together in 15 minutes. A welcomed transition from my little hiatus!

Penne with Smashed Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6


· ½ pound whole wheat penne pasta
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 3 cloves garlic, chopped
· 1 pound hot Italian chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
· 8oz frozen peas, thawed
· 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
· 1 bunch fresh basil leaves chopped (about 3/4 cup)
· 1/4 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
· 1 teaspoon salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes if dry or according to package directions if fresh. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into bite-sized bits. When the sausage has browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the peas to the pan and, using the back of the wooden spoon, smash the peas. Turn off the heat. Add the ricotta cheese along with the cooked pasta and toss to coat, adding the pasta cooking water in 1/4 cup additions, if needed, to make the pasta moist. Return the sausage to the pan. Add the basil, PecorinoRomano cheese, and salt. Toss gently to coat and serve immediately.

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