RECIPE

Sausage and Spaghetti

We started with Caponata (page 27). We had Sausage & Spaghetti, and I also made a Caesar Salad (page 16), but with romaine from our garden instead of kale.

Note: Field peppers are like red bell peppers but they are more rectangular, more of a frying pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 4 hot or mild Italian sausages
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 cubanelle peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red field pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 fresh red Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white or red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (28- or 32-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP on the label)
  • 2 cups passata (see note)
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • A handful of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Preparation

In a large saucepan, heat the EVOO (1 or 2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until browned; you’re just crisping up the casings. Transfer to a plate

To the pan, add the fennel, onion, cubanelles, field pepper, chiles, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook all that up until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Stir in the tomato paste, wine, stock, whole tomatoes, passata, and basil. Stir that together, breaking up the whole tomatoes a little bit, and let that sauce cook until it thickens up and the tomatoes break down, 20 to 30 minutes. Slide the sausages back into the sauce to finish cooking in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta al dente. Before draining, ladle out about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti, put it back in the hot pot, and toss it with the butter. Transfer the sausages to a serving platter. Add half of the sauce to the spaghetti and toss that together to combine, adding a little starchy cooking water if it gets too dry. Add the cheese and continue tossing 1 or 2 minutes for the flavors to absorb. Put the pasta on a serving platter, top it with more of the sauce, pass the sausages on a separate platter topped with a little sauce. Pass more cheese at the table.

Note: Passata is tomato puree that isn’t too sweet. It’s sometimes made from uncooked ripe tomatoes. If you can’t find it, just substitute 2 cups tomato puree or tomato sauce.

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