Cooking Chic Sausage & Peppers Over Pasta

It’s fairly unusual that I repeat recipes several times in a fairly short period of time. It’s even more unusual that I should do this without writing about it here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. Well, I guess that makes the recipe for Chic Chorizo & Peppers Over Pasta from page 147 of Michele Urvater’s Monday To Friday Pasta fairly unusual then because I’ve made this thing four, maybe five times and it’s evolved to the point where I’ve changed enough elements that I feel comfortable writing it up as my own recipe, but you’ll have to wait until next week to see that! First, I’m going to write about my earlier experiences with this recipe, which I changed right off the bat by using sweet Italian sausage instead of Chorizo. I want to say I tried finding the original, but couldn’t and went with what I thought my family would enjoy. It wound up being a good decision.

I skipped taking photos of some of the more obvious steps like getting the salty pasta water going and cooking the sausage in a pan. Once that’s done, you remove it and place chopped red peppers, mushrooms and onions in the same pan. Cook that mixture for a few minutes and once it looks tender, you put the sausage back in along with two tablespoons of water (which I took directly from the boiling pasta water) and a teaspoon of caraway seeds (which is probably a bit redundant considering you’re using Italian sausage). You cover that for 5-7 minutes and let cook. If you’re timing’s good, your pasta will be done about this time, so you can drain that in the time and return to the pot. When the sausage and veggie mixture is done, drop it into the pan and mix with a half a cup of sour cream. I usually go with low fat sour cream most of the time and did once for this, but I would recommend going with the regular because it holds up better.

You mix all that together and have yourself a dinner that only created a few dirty dishes (a nice little bonus if you cook and clean). This recipe which balances the sweet tanginess of the sausage with the coolness of the sour cream turned out to be a really well balanced meal. Add in my favorite vegetable — mushrooms — and red peppers which have their own unique sweetness and crispness and you have a dish that’s pretty darn delightful.

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Cooking Sweet & Spicy Beef With Egg Noodles

Last week I wrote about a few meals that I made a while back that had kind of fallen away from memory. I remember them not being bad, but didn’t really remember enough about them to accurately evaluate them here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. This post is about a recipe from around that same time, but it was so good that it’s burrowed its way into my brain and wants to become a recurring player in my kitchen.

The meal in question is Sweet & Spicy Beef With Egg Noodles as seen in Michele Urvater’s Monday to Friday Pasta (page 132). It’s based on some Middle Eastern flavors and turned out to be uniquely tasty. I also appreciated that I didn’t have to buy too many ingredients to whip this up as most of them were already in my pantry or spice rack.

The recipe calls for cooking a clove of garlic, onion and chili in vegetable oil (I usually use olive oil with pasta, but I’ve found that it lends itself better to Italian and Greek dishes and stands out in a bad way sometimes when working with a different spice palette). I skipped the chili because we’re not super into spice here, but got the garlic and onion cooking like normal. I also mixed allspice, cinnamon and cumin for use later on.

After the onion and garlic cook for a bit, then you throw in the spices followed by the ground beef in. Once that starts to brown you insert tomato puree (which I didn’t have on hand, so I went with a combination of V8 juice and jarred tomato sauce) and let that simmer until the egg noodles are done cooking. After that, you just mix it all together and wind up with what reminded me of goulash a bit in look, but comes off with a much sweeter, tangier flavor.

The recipe also calls for garnishing with plain yogurt, sour cream, feta cheese or Asiago. I decided to go with both sour cream and Feta and I really enjoyed how the mildness of the sour cream became a kind of intermediary between the pasta and the bite of the feta. Just thinking about this one is making me hungry. Looks like I’ll be adding it to next week’s menu!

Cooking Burgundy Steak With Bow Ties

Even though I wrote about mac and cheese yesterday and I’m writing about a pasta dish right now, I actually try to keep my weekly menus to only one pasta dish per week. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s a general rule I go by. Of course, that makes it tough to come up with meals in the winter because all I really want to do is eat pasta with awesome sauce and soup and I can’t make soup because the baby doesn’t have a handle on that skill set just yet.

The particular pasta dish I chose a few weeks ago came from the Monday To Friday Pasta book by Michele Urvater. It’s called Burgundy Steak With Penne (page 134), though I used bow ties because I find them to be more festive. All you need to make this dish are carrots, mushrooms, an onion, oil, thyme, red wine, beef broth and rib eye or sirloin steak (I think I went with sirloin). I had most of the ingredients in my pantry and fridge so I only had to pick a few things up, which I like.

I also like how simple this dish is to put together. I got the pasta water going then worked on cutting up the vegetables and then the meat. You cook the veggies first, then add in the wine, herbs and whatnot. The meat goes in next and, really, that’s about it. Once the pasta is done, mix it all together and you’ve got yourself a meaty, veggie-filled, burgundy dish that I liked very much and would like to have again soon.

Cooking Pasta Estiva

Finding recipes that make sense when it gets really hot out can be super difficult. Technically, cooking anything will heat up your house — especially if you’re working in a smaller kitchen like I am — but I’m also not a big fan of cold food. So, one day last week I decided to bite the bullet and makes something that might heat things up in the house, but come out a little cooler on the other end. I decided on Pasta Estiva from Monday To Friday Pasta by Michele Urvater (page 180) because it involved a lot of nice vegetables like cucumbers, yellow squad, zucchini and tomatoes.

Basically, you get the past going at the beginning and then start chopping veggies. By the way, I forgot to get radishes, so those weren’t involved, but I would be intrigued to try them next time. Once you’ve got everything chopped, you heat a cup of water until boiling and toss in the veggies for a few minutes.

And that’s all folks! There’s a little olive oil and some salt — my wife suggested adding a little more salt when messing around with that many vegetables and no solid sauce just to keep the flavors level — but I really enjoyed the simple, fresh flavors. I imagine you could pretty much toy with this one until you found a veggie combination that works for you, but I thought this particular mix made for a good meal. Anyone ever try it with the radishes? My concern is that they’d make things a little too bitter.